An anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, has warned that the new legislation approved by the government in Russia would conceal property owned by state officials hampering anti-corruption investigations.
Though the new move to make the state property registry secret has not yet become law and requires to go through the parliament, but it looks likely to become law since most Russian MPs are government supporters.
Transparency International said the new measure would “raise the impunity of government officials” with its deputy director of Russian branch saying that “This could make it harder to tackle money-laundering and illicit enrichment.”
In its rating for 2014, the TI had placed Russia at 136 out of 175 countries, below Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Mexico.
The move was originally proposed by the Federal Security Service (FSB), which was earlier known Russian secret service KGB.
The FSB has also said that it wanted to block public access to registries listing officials’ ownership of planes and yachts.
A BBC report said that the famous Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, had exposed cases of civil servants owning property that appeared lavish compared with their official salaries.
President Putin was the head of the FSB in the late 1990s before becoming president. He had been an officer in the Soviet KGB, the communist secret police.
The news website Lenta.ru says the new proposal coincides with certain restrictions on Russian access to offshore havens. It reported that the western financial sanctions on Russia, coupled with the global anti-corruption efforts had made the offshore option less attractive.