Bullying Businesses

cdn.appleweblog.com.files.2011.01.bank.jpgToday it was reported by the Moscow Times that Prime Minister Putin has urged the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service to amend the law which regulates foreign investment into 43 strategic sectors.  It would seem he hopes that the result will be a more attractive and flexible working environment for foreign businesses looking to grow in Russia.  Meanwhile the news also came that Deutsche Bank’s Moscow offices were raided by masked gunmen.  Whist it was asserted that the raid concerned not the operations of the bank itself but rather the dealings of one client, exiled ex-law maker Ashot Yegiazaryan, who is in hot water over allegations of embezzling $87.5 million through the Hotel Moskva development project, as the New York Times points out, heavy-handed tactics are unlikely to inspire the greatest confidence among foreign businesses in the metropolis:

Whatever the legal or political missteps of such clients, foreign bankers in Moscow have for years implored the government to refrain from conducting such jarring raids on bank offices. Sometimes, police wielding guns force stock analysts and economists onto the floors of their offices. This happens often enough in Moscow financial institutions that such incidents are referred to as a “masky show,” a term coined in the 1990s when it began.

The practice continues, though President Dmitri A. Medvedev has said hewants Moscow to become an international financial center that competeswith the likes of Hong Kong and Singapore in emerging market business.

In November, police armed with automatic weapons raided a bank belongingto the billionaire Aleksandr Y. Lebedev, a part owner of the nationalairline Aeroflot. Mr. Lebedev said he was sitting in his office when menin commando outfits wearing masks burst in, looking for documents in atwo-year-old white-collar crime case.

Read the whole article here.