By Lucy Komisar
April 4, 2011
Sergey Ivanov, the Russian deputy prime minister, spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations lunch in New York today. Suave, with excellent English, he served in the KGB from 1981 to 1998, ending as deputy head of one of the intelligence directorates. Now he deals with economic issues.
After his talk, I commented to him privately that General Electric with billions of dollars in profits (more than $5 billion in the U.S. last year) had paid no U.S. taxes, partly through the use of the offshore system. I said I knew that the Yukos (oil) and Avisma (titanium) companies, when controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now imprisoned in Russia, had evaded Russian taxes through the Isle of Man and other offshore venues. I asked if he thought the U.S. and Russia should get together to put a stop to offshore tax evasion.
He smiled and agreed that the two countries need to deal with the international offshore system. That was something to consider in the future.
And then he said, There are more than 1,000 banks in Russia. They are not banks but [money] launderers.