Kremlin Dismisses Troika Allegations
The Kremlin dismissed on Monday allegations that the Troika Laundromat channelled billions of dollars out of Russia, claiming the revelations contain nothing new.
The financial scheme at former investment bank Troika Dialog was revealed by OCCRP last week. The bank was used by Russian oligarchs, organized criminals and Vladimir Putin’s closest friends to launder allegedly illicitly acquired money and hide it abroad.
“This investigation is very confusing and some episodes mentioned in it are quite old,” said Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on a conference call with journalists. The laundromat operated from 2006 to early 2013.
In the Kremlin’s first comments on the claims, Peskov said the reports “contain nothing particularly novel,” while many of the allegations are untrue or presented in a distorted way, Bloomberg reported.
Moscow’s response comes days after Troika’s former president and chief executive officer, Ruben Vardanyan, responded to the allegations in an open letter. There is no evidence that Vardanyan was implicated in the scheme.
“It is difficult to describe just how confused the published materials were,” he said, branding some of the allegations as “pure inventions.”
He claims as Russia operated by the “law of the jungle” when Troika was founded, it is unfair to assess the company’s activities by contemporary standards. Despite this, he said Troika met international standards as part of its attempts to “create a civilized environment in Russia.”
“Our lawyers are now researching all the possible legal options to protect our reputation,” he said.
Putin said on Monday that Russian funds sent to offshore accounts have halved since 2016 as a result of improved banking regulation. In a meeting with the head of the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring, Yury Chikhanchin, they claimed 80 percent of financial organisations now meet anti-money laundering requirements.
The pair discussed Russia’s ongoing compliance checks by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The country risks falling onto the FATF blacklist following the Troika Laundromat revelations, according to Ilya Shumanov, deputy director at Transparency International Russia.
Writing in the Moscow Times, Shumanov believes the outcome could further deepen Russia’s economic woes with most Western banks refusing to conduct financial operations with blacklisted members.