Russian Officials Steal $120 Billion a Year: Prosecutor

Corrupt officials are raking off a sum equivalent to one third of Russia's annual budget, or $120 billion, a senior prosecutor was quoted as saying on Friday.


President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to crack down on corruption, which he acknowledges is rampant. Economists say the problem threatens to curb the country's rapid economic growth.

"The revenues of our bureaucrats from corrupt activity, according to experts, account for one third of our national budget," Interfax news agency quoted Vasily Piskaryov, a senior official at the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General's office, as saying.

Russia's annual budget is estimated to expand to 8,965 billion roubles ($376.5 billion) in 2008, according to the latest official figures, which would value the earning by corrupt officials at more than $120 billion.

Separately, a senior official at Russia's financial watchdog, Rosfinnadzor, was detained on Thursday for taking a 13,600 euro ($21,230) bribe, the state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported on Friday.

Russia's economy has grown rapidly in recent years, fuelled by a boom in energy and resource exports.