Putin is ‘picture of corruption,’ US Treasury official says
search

Putin is ‘picture of corruption,’ US Treasury official says

Russian leader accused of using ‘state assets’ to enrich himself and friends, may be worth some $40b, according to US

Acting US Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin. (YouTube/BBC Newsnight)
Acting US Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin. (YouTube/BBC Newsnight)

LONDON — A senior US Treasury official has directly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption, in a BBC program that aired Monday.

The US government imposed sanctions against a number of Kremlin insiders in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, but did not accuse Putin of direct involvement in corruption.

However, during a Panorama investigation into Putin’s “secret riches,” Adam Szubin, the acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury said Putin was a “picture of corruption.”

“We’ve seen him enriching his friends, his close allies, and marginalizing those who he doesn’t view as friends using state assets,” Szubin, who oversees US Treasury sanctions, told the Panorama program in an unusually strong statement from the government on Putin’s personal finances.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 9, 2015. (AFP Photo/Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 9, 2015. (AFP Photo/Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)

“Whether that’s Russia’s energy wealth, whether it’s other state contracts, he directs those to whom he believes will serve him and excludes those who don’t. To me, that is a picture of corruption.”

The US government has known about this for “many, many years,” he added.

The program cited a secret CIA report from 2007 stating that Putin’s wealth stood at around $40 billion.

“He supposedly draws a state salary of something like $110,000 a year,” said Szubin. “That is not an accurate statement of the man’s wealth, and he has long-time training and practices in terms of how to mask his actual wealth.”

The program also featured an interview with Dimitry Skarga, who used to run state shipping company Sovcomflot.

He alleged he managed the transfer of a $35-million yacht to Putin from Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, whose lawyers dismissed the claims as speculation.

Putin’s spokesman told the BBC that “none of these questions or issues needs to be answered, as they are pure fiction.”

The Russian president earned about 3.7 million rubles ($104,000) and owns three Russian-made cars, a 77-square-meter flat, a garage and a plot of land, according to a declaration of assets published on the Kremlin’s website in 2014.

Putin’s modest declared earnings are by far the lowest among Kremlin officials, and below most ministers, many of whom boast fleets of luxury vehicles and multiple houses in European countries.

Putin, a former KGB agent, has previously scoffed at claims he was Europe’s richest man, saying: “It’s simply rubbish. They just picked all of it out of someone’s nose and smeared it across their little papers.”

Moscow also on Thursday dismissed as a “joke” a British inquiry’s findings that Putin “probably approved” the killing of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko a decade ago in London.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

For as little as $6 a month, you can help support our independent journalism — and enjoy special benefits and status as a Times of Israel Community member!

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Join our community
read more:
comments