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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Chikhanchin, I have just signed executive orders appointing you and your deputies to continue in your posts. You are not a newcomer to the agency. This is an important agency that plays a big part in fighting corruption, putting our finances in order, and combating money laundering.
I note that over these years, despite the complexity and confidential nature of your work, the Service has never had any leak of information that could be damaging for our country’s business and economy. I hope that you will continue to work just as intensely, thoroughly and carefully.
I also want to take this opportunity to ask about the situation with monitoring spending, public spending above all, particularly as regards public procurement contracts.
Head of the Federal Service For Financial Monitoring Yury Chikhanchin: Mr President, thank you very much for trusting my deputies and me to continue running the Service. We will work on fulfilling the missions you have set, as well as our earlier tasks. I would like to say just a few words about the international side of our work, seeing as Russia is due to report to FATF [Financial Action Task Force] next week, and as head of the Russian delegation I will make a general report. The report is ready and it is a positive one. There are some technical matters to attend to, as I reported to you earlier. Some legal amendments are required, but this will be done by the end of this year.
The second matter is…
Vladimir Putin: I know that you give a lot of help and support to our CIS colleagues in setting up similar organisations in their countries.
Yury Chikhanchin: We are continuing our work in this area. You know that I am the chairman of the Eurasian group [on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism (EAG)]. FATF also examines these countries’ reports, and we go there to give them our support. Essentially, this makes it possible to keep them off the ‘black list’.
Vladimir Putin: Keep these countries off the black list?
Yury Chikhanchin: Yes, above all the Central Asian countries. Our main allies at the moment are China and India. They are active in defending not only Russia’s interests but also those of the Central Asian countries. Many of the Eurasian Group’s initiatives do not have their equivalent even within FATF, and FATF is showing interest in these initiatives.
I want to say too, that we plan to hold the twentieth plenary session of financial intelligence services from around the world at the start of July. Four hundred people from 130 services will be coming.
Vladimir Putin: This will take place in Moscow?
Yury Chikhanchin: In St Petersburg on July 11. There will also be a competition for the year’s best financial investigation. Two investigations have made it into the final – one from Russia and one from the Philippines. Let’s hope that luck is on our side. This would be a big achievement indeed.
In October we are due to make a big report to the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee [CTC] on FATF standards, and we are preparing it now.
Regarding our priority instructions, we are indeed concentrating on public procurement contracts above all. My most recent instruction, which we are carrying out together with the law enforcement agencies, was to review all public procurement contracts that were carried out in less than a month. To my surprise, or perhaps to my regret…
Vladimir Putin: You are saying that it took less than a month to carry out contracts? What kind of contracts are these?
Yury Chikhanchin: A contract, say, for building a hospital within 20 days. The contract was worth more than 200 million. We are investigating it now.
Vladimir Putin: This is a complete case of fraud?
Yury Chikhanchin: I think that there is probably every reason to investigate this case.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Chikhanchin, if you come across cases such as this one, you must immediately pass on all of the evidence to the law enforcement agencies so that they can open criminal cases.
Yury Chikhanchin: We have checked out these kinds of contracts and, working together with the law enforcement agencies, are in the process now of getting the information ready to be passed on.
We are continuing our work in other areas too. We have cases in the housing and utilities sector and the defence industry, and this information will also be passed on to the law enforcement agencies. To give you one example, we have just investigated a case in the housing and utilities sector involving the Belokurikha Health Centre in Altai Territory. The former village heads had established a de-facto monopoly over the village’s housing and utilities sector, thus hiking up the cost of health centre vouchers. The information on this case has been passed on to the Prosecutor General’s Office now and to the presidential plenipotentiary envoy for monitoring. In other words, these cases are being dealt with.