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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rule May Affect Cash-Laden Travelers

MTA man showing his documents to officials at the Customs Control Zone after arriving at Domodedovo Airport.
Travelers entering the country with $10,000 or more may soon have to explain the origin of their money and its intended use, the Federal Customs Service said in a statement on its web site.

As the regulations now stand, sums over $10,000 have to be declared by anyone entering the country. Under the proposed new rules, however, travelers will have to go an extra step, providing information on where the money came from and the identities of persons it is intended for, the service said.

Travelers would be required to present documentation regarding the money’s origins, which could include receipts from the sale of personal items or for cash withdrawals from banking machines.

The toughened rules, which would apply to both foreigners and Russian citizens, are necessary to fight money laundering and terrorism, the statement said.

The changes have already received approval from the Central Bank and the Federal Financial Monitoring Service and are now undergoing expert evaluation, the statement said.

A Federal Financial Monitoring Service spokesperson declined to comment.

An employee of the service who asked not to be identified said the new rules would help to bring Russian legislation in line with foreign laws on money laundering.

The Central Bank did not respond to requests for comment.

The Federal Customs Service could not provide statistics on the number of Russians who carry $10,000 or more into the country.

The Russian Travel Industry Union said it did not keep statistics on the amounts of cash travelers carried. Tourists usually do not carry those types of sums in cash, said Irina Tyurina, a union spokeswoman.

Experts criticized the proposal, saying it could end up affecting the wrong people and increase the powers of the Federal Customs Service.

A criminal carrying a large sum of money won’t go through the red corridor, as they have other channels for transporting money into the country,” said Galina Balandina, a lawyer with Pepeliaev, Goldsblat & Partners.

Passengers making customs declarations at Sheremetyevo Airport must walk through a corridor indicated by a red sign.

The law would mostly hurt law-abiding citizens, Balandina said.

The customs service is not currently responsible for determining the source of citizens’ incomes, said Yelena Belozerova, a lawyer with Goldsblat BLP.

“This would be a widening of [the service’s] powers,” she said.

Tax inspectors and the Federal Financial Monitoring Service, not customs officials, should be responsible for checking on the sources of people’s money, said Vladimir Reznik, chairman of the State Duma’s Financial Markets Committee.