Local French-language daily Monaco Matin has asked if Monaco will take action against oligarchs who have established themselves beyond Russia’s borders, following similar attempts by the US, Britain and perhaps very soon all of Europe, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This will be very difficult for Monaco, where the Russian community is very active,” journalist Cedric Verany added.

Minister of State Pierre Dartout responded: “It is still premature to say. What is certain is that the Principality is obliged, bearing in mind its international obligations, to adopt identical measures as are taken by the European Union. That’s the reality, that’s part of our international obligations.”

“That’s the case, for example, for the freezing of funds. I can say that ministerial decisions have already been taken to freeze assets in the Principality of Monaco. But I am not yet able to say if this involves residents of Monaco.”

According to Monaco’s statistics office, the Russian community in Monaco numbers 749 individuals.

The amount of cash that many wealthy Russians have stolen from the state is mind-boggling.

Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times said: “Filip Novokment, Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman have pointed out that Russia has run huge trade surpluses every year since the early 1990s, which should have led to a large accumulation of overseas assets. Yet official statistics show Russia with only moderately more assets than liabilities abroad. How is that possible? The obvious explanation is that wealthy Russians have been skimming off large sums and parking them abroad.”

“Novokment et al estimate that in 2015 the hidden foreign wealth of rich Russians amounted to around 85 percent of Russia’s G.D.P. To give you some perspective, this is as if a U.S. president’s cronies had managed to hide $20 trillion in overseas accounts. Another paper co-written by Zucman found that in Russia, “…the vast majority of wealth at the top is held offshore.” As far as I can tell, the overseas exposure of Russia’s elite has no precedent in history — and it creates a huge vulnerability that the West can exploit.”

He adds: “… a number of influential people, both in business and in politics, are deeply financially enmeshed with Russian kleptocrats. This is especially true in Britain.”

PHOTO: The front page of Saturday’s Monaco Matin

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