WASHINGTON A U.S. Treasury official said the United States considers Russian President Vladimir Putin to be corrupt and that it has known this for "many, many years," the BBC reported on Monday.
Adam Szubin, acting Treasury secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, said in an interview with BBC Panorama that the Russian president has been amassing secret wealth.
"We've seen him enriching his friends, his close allies and marginalizing those who he doesn't view as friends using state assets. Whether that's Russia's energy wealth, whether it's other state contracts, he directs those to whom he believes will serve him and excludes those who don't. To me, that is a picture of corruption," Szubin was quoted as saying.
The BBC report said Szubin declined to comment on a 2007 Central Intelligence Agency report that estimated Putin's wealth at $40 billion, but he said the Russian leader's stated wealth is an underestimation.
"He supposedly draws a state salary of something like $110,000 a year," Szubin said. "That is not an accurate statement of the man's wealth, and he has longtime training and practices in terms of how to mask his actual wealth."
Putin's public financial disclosures depict a man of modest means. In April, Putin declared 2014 income of 7.65 million roubles ($119,000). He listed the ownership of two modest apartments and a share in a car parking garage.
The United States has placed sanctions on a number of Russian businessmen loyal to Putin as part of its drive to put pressure on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine.
In March 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department linked Putin to profits from one of those, Gennady Timchenko, a long-time acquaintance of Putin and then co-owner of Geneva-based Gunvor, which trades nearly 3 percent of the world's oil.
"Timchenko activities in the energy sector have been directly linked to Putin. Putin has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds," the department said in a statement announcing the sanctions.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Richard Chang)
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First Published On : Jan 26, 2016 01:45 IST