Russia: Illicit Financial Flows and the Role of the Underground Economy
A recent study from Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington-based research and advocacy organization, found that $764.3 billion in illegal money flowed into and out of Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The research also estimates that Russia's underground economy averaged 46% of GDP over the past 18 years, and that illicit flows and the underground economy both grew significantly over the 18-year period studied, driven in large part by an overall deterioration in governance and widespread tax evasion. The misinvoicing of trade transactions, weak banking regulations, and tax havens—particularly Cyprus—were found to play a major role in facilitating the flow of this illegal money. GFI's director, Raymond Baker, discussed the findings and significance of the report, the mechanisms by which money is laundered into and out of the country, and some policy recommendations for curtailing the problems.