Friday, July 12, 2013

Rich Lawmakers Exit Russia’s Senate After Foreign-Asset Ban

The spring session of Russia’s upper house of parliament came to an end this week, but that may not signal an end to the steady stream of wealthy senators who have stepped down as the Kremlin put forward new restrictions on officials owning assets abroad. The nine members of the 166-seat Federation Council who have left since President Vladimir Putin first floated the asset ban in December do not openly attribute their decision to the tighter rules. But at least five of them figure in Forbes magazine’s rating of richest Russians, and their fellow senators, as well as experts, speak openly of moneyed officials’ new dilemma: wealth based overseas versus political power at home. The most recent defector was Dmitry Ananiev, whose resignation was approved Wednesday, the last day of the senate’s spring session. Ananiev jointly controls Russia’s second largest privately owned bank, Promsvyazbank, with his brother Alexei Ananiev. As of this year, the two men were together worth $3.4 billion, according to Forbes. Ananiev is not the richest senator to have stepped down since Putin called for the asset restrictions. Other departures from the Federation Council in 2013 include majority owner of fertilizer company Phosagro, Andrei Guriev, valued at $4 billion; private investor Nikolai Olshansky, worth $750,000; portfolio investor Vitaly Malkin, valued at $850,000; and construction company owner Andrei Molchanov, who has $1.65 billion, by Forbes’s estimates.

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