It has emerged that Russian President Vladimir Putin already 19 June 2002 in a televised meeting with leading Russian businessmen warned that there was a very real risk that their offshore funds could be expropriated by Western governments. Putin assured that the money would be far more secure back in Russia. Many regret now not having heeded this prophetic advice. The meeting was covered by Russian Channel One news (the clip can be viewed here). It was reported that Putin, speaking about the “runaway” Russian capital, suggested that businessmen should think whether it wouldn’t be time to return their money home to Russia. Doing so, it was said, would make business sense even if one would put aside the purely patriotic motives. Foretelling events, the news report mentioned that “it was no secret that the western countries had long been eyeing these Russian funds and were rather eager to exploit them in their own interests.” Putin was shown saying: “I remind you about the Russian folk wisdom saying: friendship is friendship, but business is business. We have good relations with many of our partners. But the western economies that today employ this Russian offshore capital are not at all interested in releasing them back. There is every reason to believe that they will continue to ratchet up the conditions of the use of these assets. I’m not implying that they are about to freeze these assets immediately tomorrow, but if such a decision were to be taken, then excuse me for saying it so bluntly, you’ll be swallowing dust running exhausted from court to court trying to unfreeze your money.”
Putin proved very right in his prophecies, only he was too generous in allowing that there would have been room for any court dealings. The European Union just took the money and sank the ship.
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Jon Hellevig, Managing partner of Awara Group