Taxmen to Check Shops, Developers

The Federal Tax Service said Friday that it would target retailers and real estate developers this year as it seeks to boost tax returns from the booming industries.

"Despite growth in imports and a general boom in construction of hypermarkets, big trade centers and the development of retail chains, tax returns from the trade industry decreased in 2007," the service said in a statement.

Officials have previously accused retailers of using illegal import schemes with the aim of reducing taxes, but few have been caught. Last year, prosecutors investigated mobile phone firm Yevroset on suspicion of smuggling.

The service's comments come days after it hit home electronics retailer Eldorado with back tax claims of up to $624 million, which could force the company to sell some assets.

The first sign of the service's stance was the arrest earlier this year of Vladimir Nekrasov, owner of Arbat Prestige, on suspicion of tax evasion.