Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order instructing
the top management of 29 leading, state-owned corporations to account for their
income and spending.
The instruction will only apply to “those senior managers capable
of being appointed by the prime minister,” Medvedev’s press secretary, Natalya
Timakova, told the media.
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In other words, the order will not cover a number of major
state-owned corporations, including the world’s largest oil company, Rosneft,
Russia’s second largest bank, VTB, and the gas giant Gazprom.
The 29 companies to be directly affected by the government
decision include Russian Railways, Moscow State University, the Higher School
of Economics, Rosatom State Nuclear Corporation, ITAR-TASS news agency and
several smaller businesses.
These companies’ directors, their deputies and chief accountants,
as well as their family members, will be required to declare their income and
Senior managers will be made to account for income accrued
from all sources, including from their previous employment, as well as from pension
and welfare payments and any other benefits.
The declaration filed by managers should also include
information about any property owned or leased.
In the event that any part of the information provided proves
to be false, the filing party will be given three months to re-submit their
Sergey Prikhodko, deputy prime minister and government
chief of staff, said at a Cabinet meeting that the veracity of the information
submitted will be checked thoroughly and systematically.
Yevgeny Yasin, head of research at the Higher School of
Economics, dismissed Medvedev’s move to “police” large corporations as
“You have set up a whole load of state companies and
corporations, and now you want to police them in the same manner as you do
officials; well, that’s absolute nonsense,” Yasin told the Russian news
agency Prime. “You can tell Dmitry Anatolyevich [Medvedev] that he should
not listen to all those people milling around him.”
According to Yasin, if the state wants to police the people
who work for it directly, then it should set up state institutions; if, on the
other hand, the state does not need this but has state enterprises, it should privatize them.
Alternatively, Ilya Rachkov, a partner at King
Spalding, believes the taxpayers have a right to know how state-run companies
spend the money they receive from the federal budget.
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“In this sense, we cannot but hail the government’s
initiative; however, top managers will always find 1,001 ways to [misappropriate]
state funds,” Rachkov said. For example, a senior manager may decide to
register his or her property in the name of a firm that cannot be traced back
Others, however, note the jurisdiction of the prime
minister’s initiative as problematic. “The fact that a number of state
companies are actually exempt from this requirement fits in nicely with the
concept of there being certain, privileged businesses that are, by definition,
impeccable,” said Ilya Levin at the Humboldt University of Berlin.
Alexander Yermolenko, a partner at FBK Legal, believes the
requirement that senior managers declare any transactions whose value exceeds
their three-year income is altogether a pretense for fighting corruption.