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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Special Tax Office May Target Tycoons

VedomostiA Federal Tax Service office in Moscow. A body may be created to study the financial activities of the nation's wealthy.
The Federal Tax Service could be looking to crack down on tax evasion by the country's richest people through the creation of a new unit to scrutinize their financial activities, RIA-Novosti reported Monday.

With 52 billionaires on the Forbes rich list, an elite class of ultrawealthy Russians controls a large chunk of the economy.

"This inspectorate is being created to check and control the oligarchs," a source in the Federal Tax Service said, RIA-Novosti reported.

The new unit will also look at celebrities, such as pop stars and sportsmen, a second source told the news agency.

"Abroad, there are inspectorates monitoring high society, and so the issue of having something similar here has long been in the works," the source was quoted as saying.

The order to create the interregional tax inspectorate, the eleventh such agency, will be signed in the next few days, RIA-Novosti said.

The head of the tax service denied claims, however, that the move was imminent, Interfax reported.

"The Federal Tax Service does not plan to conduct such inspections in the near future," Mikhail Mokretsov said, denying reports that an order would be signed in the next few days.

Any move to establish such a unit would have to go through the Finance Ministry and then be registered with the Justice Ministry, Interfax reported.

A spokesman for the Finance Ministry said he had no information on the matter Monday.

There are currently 10 tax directorates looking at the country's largest companies but none that focuses exclusively on individuals.

The highest-profile tax prosecution against a billionaire was brought against former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Khodorkovsky and his associate Platon Lebedev are currently serving eight-year jail terms in Siberia for fraud and tax evasion.

Reuters, MT