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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tax Official Says State Crackdown to Widen

A senior official in the government's campaign to clamp down on corporate tax dodgers painted an upbeat picture of the effort Wednesday and said it would be broadened to include more companies.

Pyotr Mostovoi, head of the Federal Bankruptcy Board, told a news conference that the tax arrears of all companies in the Russian energy sector would be investigated. "We are analyzing information about all companies in the oil and gas sector and among utilities," he said.

More than 20 large alleged tax debtors, including five major oil producers, have been targeted since President Boris Yeltsin last month formed an emergency commission to enforce what the government has termed "payments discipline."

Trying to put the best possible spin on its efforts, the bankruptcy board in a statement Wednesday said the government's drive to boost revenue collection has began to pay off.

An intergovernmental commission created by presidential decree in August has checked the balance sheets of 560 corporate debtors and so far managed to raise 2.6 trillion rubles ($480 million), the statement said.

But that is just a fraction of outstanding tax arrears that totaled about 90 trillion rubles in the first eight months of this year, according to official statistics.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund delayed a monthly $340-million installment on a three-year loan, citing concerns over the government's poor record in collecting revenue.

One high-profile company targeted by the government, the Tatarstan truckmaker KamAZ, was let off the bankruptcy hook Tuesday after senior-level Kremlin negotiations with Tatar officials.

According to Mostovoi, Tatarstan declared its readiness to pay the tax debts of KamAZ amounting to about 51 billion rubles.

Mostovoi added that it was "quite unlikely" that two other companies slated for bankruptcy proceedings, oil refiner Krasnodarnefteorgsintez and the Achinsky Alumina plant, would face total liquidation.

Mostovoi rejected Russian press reports that the government's threat to declare the Moscow carmaker Moskvich bankrupt had led to the breakdown of a contract with the French company Renault about the delivery of engines for Moskvich cars.