Kazakhstan to combat capital flight offshore

By bne IntelliNews March 20, 2014

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Kazakh financial police says it is to step up efforts to prevent funds from being transferred to offshore accounts and to improve transparency over ownership.

"Developing our anti-corruption strategy, we paid close attention to the problem of large-scale use of offshore by domestic enterprises," Olzhas Bektenov of Kazakhstan's Agency for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption said on March 19.

"In addition to the permanent transferring abroad, there is one more threatening problem. It is the lack of transparency in the structure of ownership in strategic Kazakh companies. Currently, the identification of the ultimate beneficiary is not possible," Bektenov told a meeting of Kazakhstan's Public Council on anti-corruption and the shadow economy, according to Kazinform.

Bektenov also warned that funds laundered abroad are often brought back to Kazakhstan "under the guise of respectable foreign investment". Astana will launch "a system of inter-country real-time exchange of information," by the end of 2015, he added.

Last month, a Kazakh deputy proposed the country should create its own offshore zone, in a bid to keep capital from leaving the country. "Kazakhstan invested $3.6bn in the Virgin Islands, $2.6bn in the Seychelles, and $1.9bn in Cyprus," claimed Tursunbek Omurzakov, according to Trend.

He noted that a Russian plan for an offshore zone in the far east creates additional risk of capital flight, as there will be no restriction within the Customs Union. "We should work with such countries: sign agreements and exchange tax information," he demanded.

The ministry of economy has drawn up a programme to combat the shadow economy in 2014-2015. Astana is also working to encourage cashless payments in an attempt to reduce the size of the shadow economy.

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