GENERICO.ruEconomicsThe danger of the growing export of gold from Russia without paying duty has been named

The danger of the growing export of gold from Russia without paying duty has been named

Expert Vyazovsky: “There is an obvious black hole in public finances”

The Ministry of Finance is seriously concerned about the manifold increase in the volume of exports of gold bullion by individuals from Russia. We are talking about actual smuggling, or more precisely, a convenient way to avoid paying customs duty of 7%. Today, investment gold has become an alternative to buying dollars and euros, of which there are few in the country: citizens take the precious metal abroad, mainly to the UAE, and sell it there for foreign currency. And the state is losing billions of rubles to the treasury.

Expert Vyazovsky: “There is an obvious black hole in public finances

Export duties on a wide range of goods (including gold) pegged to the ruble exchange rate began to take effect in the Russian Federation on October 1, 2023. Its maximum amount is 7% when the dollar exchange rate is above 95 rubles. If the “American” rate is below 80, the rate is zero. As Deputy Head of the Ministry of Finance Alexei Moiseev said, the measure resulted in a sharp surge in gold purchases and subsequent export from Russia: “I can’t give the numbers, but it is a multiple. People just had luck in their pockets. Why pay 7% if you don't have to pay? We stuffed it into our pockets and went.”

According to the official, the financial department is preparing a draft resolution to limit the export of gold by individuals to a certain denomination. What exactly is still unknown. The document may be released towards the end of the first quarter. By the way, back in August 2023, such an initiative was made by the Business Russia association, which pointed out the constantly increasing volumes of capital outflow through “golden” schemes. Its experts proposed introducing a limit of $10 thousand for the yellow metal in bullion, similar to what applies to cash currency.

Previously, interest in gold bars increased after the abolition of 20% VAT on their purchase in March 2023. The norm applies to legal relations arising from March 1, 2022, that is, it has retroactive effect. In addition, citizens were exempt from paying personal income tax (13%) when selling bullion.

“The concern of the Ministry of Finance is understandable: we are talking about a properly functioning mechanism of capital outflow and actual smuggling,” says Alexey Vyazovsky, vice president of the Zolotaya Plata company. – Export duty is not paid, saving on it is considered a blessing. The fact is that a number of mining companies in Russia are under sectoral sanctions from the West, and the range of sales markets for them has greatly narrowed. Today, gold goes primarily to the UAE, and there they demand a discount, on top of everything else. And so a scheme has developed in which individuals export bullion, ostensibly for personal needs, passing (as a rule, unhindered) along the green corridor in the customs control area of ​​the airport. But in reality, they act as couriers for business, essentially implementing gray exports that allow companies to save on duties.”

What the deputy minister said was “stuffed into his pockets” is rather a figure of speech. For personal purposes, Russians buy mostly small bars – 100 and 200 grams. At airports they catch gray couriers with 12-kilogram “bricks”, which they try to pass off as their own. Vyazovsky recalled two of the most sensational stories. In August 2022, operatives of the Vnukovo customs stopped smuggling worth 800 million rubles: six couriers placed 45 gold measuring bars in suitcases. Some tried to fly to Yerevan (the capital of an EAEU member state), others to Dubai, but were detained after boarding the plane. And in May 2023, a passenger was detained at Domodedovo airport who tried to leave the country with two gold bars with a total weight of over 24 kilograms and an estimated value of 126 million rubles.

So, Vyazovsky sums up, they carry hundreds of kilograms, not even tens. And mostly these are not individuals, but large groups affiliated with gold mining companies and banks. Moreover, not all “couriers” are caught. We are talking about an obvious “black hole” in public finances, a large-scale problem that the Ministry of Finance will have to solve together with Russian customs authorities and partners in the Eurasian Economic Union. Today, EAEU legislation does not require mandatory customs declaration of gold exported by individuals for personal use.

“The current situation is unique – it matches the geopolitical circumstances,” says Alexander Shneiderman, head of the sales and customer support department at Alfa-Forex. – Therefore, businesses go to any lengths and come up with a variety of ways to solve their current financial problems. Most likely, strict restrictive measures will be taken with regard to the smuggling practice of exporting gold by individuals – from the Ministry of Finance, or directly from the Bank of Russia. In addition, the EAEU countries can agree on new customs rules.”

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