By Brian LeBlanc, May 23, 2014
It can be tough to impose economic sanctions against Russian citizens if you can’t find their money. Russia’s very complex relationship with tax havens could make this more difficult.
It is also tough to try to pinpoint exactly how much Russian money is being held in tax havens due to the fact that a lot of it isn’t reported to Russian officials/international organizations like the IMF (that’s the whole point of hiding your money in a tax haven).
The amount that is actually reported is pretty jaw-dropping. Approximately 61% of Russia’s $403 billion in outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is held in tax havens:
Just to be clear, FDI is any amount of investment in a entity which gives the investor some control over that entity’s operations. So, if a Russian billionaire incorporates an entity in Cyprus (often these entities in tax havens are just bogus “shell” entities), and invests $1,000,000 into the entity, that will show up in the FDI statistics.