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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aide Says Putin to Veto Duma Cash Export Bill

Despite a year of high-level lobbying by Western businesses, it will likely take at least another year before restrictions on foreigners taking cash out of the country are eased.

The State Duma on Friday approved in the second and third readings long-awaited amendments to the law on currency that would raise to $10,000 from $1,500 the amount of cash foreigners and Russians can carry out of the country without special Central Bank permission.

Lawmakers in the lower house also voted to introduce the same requirements for residents and nonresidents, because currently foreigners cannot legally take a single cent out of the country without a declaration stamped upon arrival or a special bank receipt.

But President Vladimir Putin's Duma representative said Putin would veto the measures if they pass the Federation Council as expected.

"I don't want to dramatize the situation, but under such a limit about $150 billion could leave the country in the near future," news agencies quoted Alexander Kotenkov as saying Monday.

"I have no doubt that the law will be vetoed by the president," he said.

The government, represented by the Finance Ministry and the presidential administration, want the limit capped at $3,000 and urged lawmakers to adopt that figure ahead of Friday's vote. Although several influential deputies, including budget committee chief Alexander Zhukov, did, the majority did not, opting instead to challenge the veto threat as a way to urge the government to liberalize currency controls.

Foreign businesses say the limit is less important than dropping the paperwork needed to travel with hard currency.

"I think that $10,000 is normal, but we don't insist on any particular amount, for us it is just important to be able to carry some cash and to have equal rights with residents," said Irene Commeau, managing director of the European Business Club.

In January, the EBC sent a letter to Prime Minister Mikhail Kaysanov and Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref saying that lifting the restriction and improving service at Sheremetyevo Airport were among the top items on their wish list for 2002.

"I must admit that the lines in Sheremetyevo became shorter, but we still have to spend time if we want to declare the currency upon arrival," Commeau said. "As for the currency rule, I can't understand why such a minor problem still exists and continues to have a negative affect on the investment image of Russia."