30 years of currency exchange liberalization in Russia: prospects for abolition of restrictions on individuals capital movement

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: head of the Department of Civil Law and procedure and Private International Law, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)
Affiliation: Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Occupation: Postgraduate of the Department of Civil Law and procedure and Private International Law, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)
Affiliation: Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameGosudarstvo i pravo
EditionIssue 4

Today in most of developed countries there are no restrictions on the cross-border movement of capital of individuals and entities. The obvious trend towards mitigation such restrictions outlined in the last few years in the Russian Federation. For this reason, it is very interesting to investigate the possibility of the complete abolition of the exchange restrictions for individual in Russia in the near future.

The article discusses the process of formation of Russian currency regulation rules. Over the past thirty years the country has come a long way from the state monopoly of currency exchange to the use of moderate exchange restrictions. Now Russian citizens have the right to open bank accounts in other countries, to transfer funds in any currency between own accounts up-country and abroad. There are no legislated limits on the purchase of foreign currency by individuals or on the currency withdrawals from credit cards. At the same time, permitted grounds for funds receipt from non-residents to the individuals' accounts in foreign banks are limited to the short list. Operations between residents outside the country are not allowed. The extremely high level of liability for violation of the currency regulation rules should also be noted.

The authors studied the basic legal and economic conditions that promote or inhibit the complete abolition of restrictions on cross-border movement of natural persons’ capital in the next few years. The arguments in favor of removing restrictions are intensive development of the Russian tax law and the possibility of shifting the priority in the regulation of cash flows in the direction of strengthening tax control. The experience of a number of states that abandoned exchange restrictions in favor of fiscal regulation can be taken for a basis. Particular attention is paid to the influence of international tax transparency, which is formed during the implementation of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information.

The paper also analyzed the conditions conducive to the preservation of exchange restrictions in Russia. First of all, it's disappointing macroeconomic data on the private capital outflow. Its interpretation is exacerbated by the fact that data was obtained in terms of capital amnesty, which should have led to the opposite result. The study examined the experience of other BRICS group countries, such as India and China, which are continue to use actively the restrictions on cross-border movement of individuals’ capital and even tighten it to ensure economic stability.

An important argument against the abolition of exchange restrictions for individuals is existing legal obstacles to collecting of compulsory payments and penalties due to the property of individuals, located in a foreign jurisdiction.

Can we expect the total abolition of exchange restrictions in Russia for individuals in next few years? The authors concluded that it is unlikely, because the effect of conditions preventing the removal of restrictions is still very strong. At the same time, with high probability we can assume that Russian Federation will continue to follow the trend of the gradual liberalization of exchange regulation rules, outlined in recent years. This is due to the expansion of financial control in the context of international tax transparency. In addition, it is very important to streamline the exchange arrangements and to improve law enforcement practice.

Keywordsexchange regulation, exchange restrictions, currency transaction, tax transparency, CRS, CRS MCAA, assets abroad, individual, natural person
AcknowledgmentThe reported study was funded by RFBR, project number 19-111-50292/19.
Publication date11.06.2020
Number of characters52955
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