Russia’s Investigation Committee has called for the creation of an independent body to investigate tax crimes.
Russia’s tax authorities are not empowered to conduct investigations and searches connected with tax crimes, and the police do not have the special knowledge needed to investigate tax evasion, committee spokesman Georgy Smirnov said.
That law enforecement function should be handed over to the tax authorities or to an independent new structure, Smirnov said.
“Either the tax authorities should be authorized to investigate such crimes or a separate structure subordinated directly to the Russian president should be set up,” he said.
Russia’s investment climate has suffered from a string of tax evasion and money-laundering cases targeting prosperous companies.
Legal proceedings launched against the now defunct oil company Yukos in 2003, seen by some critics as politically motivated, resulted in the conviction of many executives and shareholders, including founder and CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 on tax evasion charges and sentenced to eight years in 2005. His sentence was extended in a second trial on separate charges earlier this year and he is now due for release in 2016.
Former Yukos executive vice president Vasily Aleksanyan, 39, died in Moscow last week of complications related to AIDS. He was arrested in 2006 on charges of money-laundering, tax evasion and embezzlement as part of the Yukos case, and spent over two years in jail despite having been diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis.