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Russia Capital Outflows Were Half Official Estimate, Study Shows

Russian capital outflows were half the amount reported by the central bank last year, according to a study by Ernst & Young, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Moscow State University’s Intelligent Reserve Center.

Only $40.5 billion of the $80.5 billion of net outflows recorded in 2011 was genuine, according to a report e-mailed today.

More than $10 billion was mergers and acquisitions by Russian companies, $9.9 billion was “errors and omissions” by the regulator, as much as $9 billion was investment through offshore jurisdictions, $6 billion was Russian banking subsidiaries supporting their parent companies and $6 billion was spent on aircraft registered abroad, the researchers said.

Capital outflow from the world’s largest energy exporter has reached $363 billion since 2007, the last full year of net inflows, central bank data show. In his first state-of-the-nation address since returning to the presidency in May, President Vladimir Putin on Dec. 12 urged lawmakers to proceed with legislation to repatriate capital held by companies and high-ranking officials abroad.

Outflows will reach as much as $65 billion in 2012, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Dec. 12. The ruble has gained 4.4 percent against the dollar this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The researchers said their findings were comparable to World Bank data, which put 2011 outflows at $32.3 billion, based on private capital flows from direct and portfolio investment. Outflows were $10.9 billion in 2010, compared with the official $34.4 billion estimate, $9.3 billion instead of $56.1 billion in 2009 and $16 billion rather than $133.7 billion in 2008, according to the World Bank.

Capital outflows from Russia were equal to almost 5 percent of gross domestic product last year, compared with almost 20 percent in Norway and 35 percent in Kuwait, according to today’s study. There’s no statistical relationship between capital flows and indicators of the investment climate, the researchers said.

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