Central Bank disclosed the volume of transactions in the popular schemes of cashing and withdrawal of assets

RBC got familiar with the scale of operations for the withdrawal of assets and illegal cashing, causing most concern for the Russian financial authorities. The volume of doubtful transactions involving travel agencies, transport service providers and software vendors in 2016 exceeded 80 billion rubles.
Origin source
RBC acquired the official statistics of the Central Bank on the volumes of dubious operations for withdrawing money abroad and the shadow redistribution of cash through corrupt channels and schemes involving small travel companies, transport companies and organizations purchasing software abroad. Earlier, the Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Dmitry Skobelkin said about the Bank's concern because of the growing activity in the use of these schemes; it was mentioned during the recent February meeting of the Central Bank's management with bankers in the Bor resort near Moscow. He did not name the extent of the abuses, but the regulator's press service agreed to send this information to RBC. 

According to the Bank of Russia, there were dubious transactions amounting to 80 billion to 92 billion rubles using the above channels. The largest part of this amount, from 48 billion to 60 billion rubles, accounts for the shadow turnover of cash in the sector of travel agencies. "The volume of shadow turnover of cash in the travel agency sector varies depending on the peaks of tourist seasons and in 2016 amounted to 4 billion to 5 billion rubles monthly." the Central Bank specified. Under the scheme with the participation of transport service providers, 25 billion rubles were withdrawn over the year, through fictitious transactions for the sale and purchase of software and intellectual property rights - more than 7 billion rubles.

Judging by the figures quoted by the Central Bank, these schemes have accumulated almost half of all illegal withdrawal of money from Russia. At the same meeting with bankers in Bor, Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Central Bank, said that the amount of illegally withdrawn funds from Russia in 2016 had  amounted to 190 billion rubles.

Variety of loopholes

A separate contribution to this amount (about 16 billion rubles) is made by the so-called judicial scheme, when courts resolve artificially created disputes in favor of the interested party, after which the decision is executed by bailiffs.

As deputy director of Rosfinmonitoring Galina Bobrysheva said, popularity is gained by the scheme for withdrawal and legalization of funds through deposit accounts of notaries (with mutual settlements of their customers using this tool). It is at the beginning of its formation. As Dmitry Skobelkin told RBC, the Central Bank does not see big turnover there, but will closely monitor the situation.

Doubtful cargo transportation

As RBC was explained by the employee of the bank's compliance service from the top 10, the transportation scheme is the most famous of the listed ones. According to him, when a customer purchases any goods from a non-resident company, he usually negotiates with about the delivery, the cost of which is put into the cost of the goods and is appropriately formalized. This is stipulated by international rules in the field of foreign trade "Incoterms".

"Questions arise when a client attracts an outsourced logistics company for delivery. Such a carrier, as a rule, does not have documents confirming the availability of goods, as well as there is no issued transaction passport for this product. Such a carrier and client are serviced in different banks, and for settlements the client uses accounts for which other payments are made irregularly," explains the source.

Schemes for the withdrawal of funds through cargo transportation under foreign trade contracts have already been described by the Central Bank in their recent February recommendations to bankers to deal with them. Then the regulator urged the banks to ask the questionable customers to provide the passport of transactions for the goods being transported, a list of bank control, copies of documents for the purchase of the goods being transported and documents confirming the availability of the goods from the shipper or the carrier.

Unlike the cargo, schemes for tourist schemes and schemes for the purchase of software previously have not been described in detail.

Tours for cash

As an employee of the internal control service of one of the top-10 banks explains, the scheme with the participation of travel companies looks as follows. "The travel agency persuades the customer to pay for the ticket in cash, most often under the pretext of a non-working POS terminal for receiving cards. The check from the cash register to the customer is not issued at the same time, or a cash receipt order is issued instead of a check, which complicates the tracking of the movement of funds. By the end of the day the company has a large amount of unaccounted-for cash. This money travel agencies sell to third-party companies that pay for "goods" by bank transfer. Formally, the calculation takes place under a contract for the provision of services to legal entities, in fact, they turn out to be physical persons for cash. For some, this is a cashier, for others it is quite easy to withdraw money abroad, especially as cross-border payments for travel agencies are standard work," the source said.

Taking into account that the scheme provides cash from real clients for real tours, there is reason to assume that "live" travel agencies can engage in questionable operations, says A2 law firm partner Mikhail Alexandrov.

However, according to him, it is not difficult to create a fictitious travel agency for these purposes, since this business is not strictly regulated. To open a travel agency, you need to buy insurance or get a bank guarantee for financial security in the amount of 500 thousand rubles. But you do not have to go through some complicated licensing procedures. "Administrative barriers to entering this market are not very high," explains Alexandrov.

Ephemeral software

Details of the scheme with the participation of software traders were described to RBC by Alexandrov and two more employees of financial monitoring of large banks. The Russian company concludes a contract for the purchase of a software license with a company interested in such a shadow transaction, de-jure trading unknown software. This firm can be registered conditionally in Cyprus, or the British Virgin Islands, or, for example, in the Baltics, or India: "there are entities that are ready to engage in such operations."

The client agrees on the "purchase" of expensive software, for example, for a thousand computers, brings such a contract to the bank, opens the passport of the transaction and makes a transfer for it. Then the seller sends this money to the account of some offshore company de facto connected with the client. At the same time, there is no real delivery of software. This can not be checked, since its importation is not required, or software is supplied, which in reality is much cheaper. As a result, for a non-resident company, it is a transit operation with a commission fee for itself, and for the resident - the withdrawal of money under a plausible cover, explained the interlocutors of RBC.

Gray schemes in 2016 in figures

190 billion rubles were withdrawn from Russia in 2016, 2.6 times less than a year earlier.

48-60 billion rubles was a shadow turnover of cash in the travel agency sector.

25 billion rubles is the scale of the withdrawal of money abroad for transactions on the provision of transport services is estimated.

Over 16 billion rubles were withdrawn by schemes involving the courts and bailiffs.

More than 7 billion rubles through transactions on alleged purchase of software or intellectual property rights.

Source: Bank of Russia

All leaks can't be fixed

The banks and the Central Bank potentially have the ability to track transactions on all three schemes, most of the experts interviewed by RBC agree.

"So, the bank can always inquire about the counterparties of the travel agency, which is its client and conducts questionable transactions. And the Central Bank itself, in principle, can look into any bank right up to the last posting and, if necessary, ask questions to the bank, so that it in turn asked them to the client," argues Mikhail Alexandrov. It's the same with software purchase schemes, he continues: "If the bank sees that a certain amount of money is spent on some unknown offshore for the purchase of some unknown software, this is an excuse to ask such a buyer from among its customers."

However, as the employee of the bank's compliance service from the top 100, it is impossible to block all existing schemes at once: "If nothing is done with the economy, there will still be a demand for the withdrawal of assets and illegal cashing and there will still be loopholes allowing it to be done" .

Partner of Orient Partners Ilya Fedotov insists on the determining role of supervisory bodies in the fight against schemes. "To motivate the managing staff to act in the way that is necessary within the framework of the law is sometimes quite difficult. Conflict of interest is a common problem in many areas. In my perception, its presence in one form or another is very often present and leads to such consequences. Officially, we want to fight something, and unofficially it is unprofitable for someone or not needed," Fedotov said.