MOSCOW, April 4 /TASS/. The publication by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of 11.5 million documents about offshore accounts of prominent businessmen and politicians is a signal to Russian businessmen that it will be impossible to conceal information on profits in such jurisdictions any longer, Alexei Repik, the head of the Russian public organization Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia), told TASS.
"Entrepreneurs carry out transactions through companies registered in offshore jurisdictions for two main purposes: to conceal information about themselves and mask their capitals. It is no longer possible and will never be possible to do that legally. But for those who continue using this instrument regardless of the law, it is another bell and warning that nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest," Repik said.
In his view, offshore jurisdictions are often used for striking complex deals with foreign investors.
"They ensure a higher degree of protection for foreign partners who still prefer structuring their deals beyond the Russian legal field," Repik went on to say.
He called for adjusting the existing Russian laws to make it more attractive for striking deals with foreign partners.
"We hope that the lawmaking process in Russia will contribute to making the Russian jurisdiction more comfortable for structuring this type of deals [with foreign investors], and that this argument will become irrelevant overtime. For the moment, it certainly has the right to exist," Repik said.
He added that Delovaya Rossiya had a huge number of proposals on how to make the Russian jurisdiction more competitive.
"We work with specialized committees of the Russian State Duma and the Ministry of Economic Development. Many initiatives are being implemented this way or another," the Russian businessman said.
The creation of favorable business climate in Russia may be the best way to get rid of offshore zones, according to Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the Russian State Duma Committee for Economic Policy, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship.
"The best way of fighting offshores is to create favorable conditions for business in this country," the deputy told TASS on Monday.
He enumerated a series of measures, which, in his view, would produce a favorable impact on the process of transferring offshore companies under the Russian jurisdiction.
"First, it is necessary to pass a law on supervisory activities, which will be sparing for business: first, it should be a warning; then there should be fines ranging from minimal penalties to huge ones for repeated offences," Aksakov went on to say.
He believes that favorable administrative conditions are also necessary for the normal development of business.
"Businessmen try to relocate their businesses offshore for fear of law enforcers who can take away their business. It should not be so. Law enforcers come [to companies] on anonymous statements and create an upheaval. Officials who initiate this practice should bear full responsibility up to disqualification. Then they will think prior to making such decisions [on a new raid] in future," Aksakov said adding that a reasonable tax burden on business could also contribute to de-offshorization.
"Taxes should be reasonable and stable and should not grow," the head of the State Duma Committee said.
He added that limited access to financial resources could be another favorable factor for de-offshorization. It should be more difficult for companies registered offshore to gain access to these resources.
"If a company is registered in Russia, it should have access to participation in state and municipal purchases. A company registered offshore should be banned from taking part in these procedures," the deputy said.
Aksakov said it was necessary to stimulate business with creating a favorable business climate but called for remembering the "carrot and stick" method. Businessmen who evade taxes should know they will face strict penalties for tax evasion.
The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published on Sunday some 11.5 million documents (the Panama papers) revealing "the offshore links of some of the planet’s most prominent people." The leak includes material on hidden financial dealings of a number of Russian legal entities and individuals.
The publication is based on information leaks from the Panamanian company Mossack Fonseca, which renders legal assistance in the registration of companies in offshore zones.