Discussion focused in particular on the prospects for establishing a single financial market regulation body in Russia and also the drafting of a law to fight fly-by-night companies.
* * *
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
We have two issues to address. They concern our investment climate and improving state regulation of the economy. Indeed, I suggest that’s what we focus on, without veering off to discuss general economic issues. These are matters that are truly important.
The first topic is the establishing a single service to regulate the financial market. We have discussed it many times. Such a service must ensure control and surveillance over all investment and insurance companies, determine rules for their operation, and ultimately, be responsible for creating transparent, comfortable conditions for their activities. A corresponding draft document has been developed, so I would like to hear about what phase of readiness it is in, as well as pros and perhaps some contras, if there are any.
Still, the global financial crisis has uncovered many shortcomings in the financial market regulation principles and mechanisms; this has become a very common topic, and everyone around is making comments thereon. There is a need to thoroughly analyse this market regulation experience in nearly all of the world’s economies, and ours as well. I think that if we are able to properly design this agency, it will become a more effective and, I hope, a more reliable instrument for regulating our market which is certainly an element of the overall task of setting up the International Financial Centre in Moscow.
Returning to the subject of what solutions are required to improve our domestic investment climate, the subject I addressed at the WEF annual meeting in Davos, I should bring the Government’s attention to certain provisions I outlined during my brief visit to Switzerland, namely the sovereign fund, recognising diplomas and degrees received at leading foreign universities, and the programme for training young Russian specialists abroad. The deadline for the Government to file its respective suggestions is March 1, 2011. All the necessary resolutions must be drafted by then.
I would also like you to express your views on a certain matter, because it is a resonant one; people wrote to me about it before the New Year (first and foremost, women, of course): child care benefits. A draft law on this subject has been introduced and is currently in the State Duma. Where does it stand? If the Cabinet could say a few words, Mr Kudrin [Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister], I think that would be useful.
And the second issue concerns amendments to legislation establishing criminal liability for the unlawful use of so-called fly-by-night companies. I am talking about amending Article 173¹ and my relevant instructions to the Government. As we agreed, the corresponding document has been drafted so I would like to hear about what it includes.
We are trying to gradually take down administrative barriers – in any case, some of them have definitely been removed. There are problems with a few of them. A state operates in such a way that in certain situations, these barriers are applied again, but in any event, the state is obligated to employ all lawful measures for precluding plainly criminal activities, and fly-by-night companies are purely criminal ventures where lots of individuals are involved. The persons to be prosecuted and their measure of criminal liability are the questions yet to be answered, especially since the formal founders of such companies are usually very special people, all sorts of people, but not the wealthiest, as a rule. They let criminals use their documents, without giving a thought about possible consequences.
They usually do not know how a registered fly-by-night company is subsequently used, although it often involves money laundering, kickbacks to officials we discussed with the Chairman of the Central Bank, as well as other crimes. The fact that these citizens do not know how these entities are subsequently operating is not a reason to relieve them of their responsibility as each and every individual in our country, regardless of educational background, must understand the implications of his or her actions. If they sell their passports, they must consider what will happen next, and the fact that they could be put in jail for it. Please report on this matter.
Let’s start, please.