Friday, July 16, 2021

Pandemic Opened Floodgates for Violations in State Purchasing, Accounting Chamber Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 10 – Russian officials and Russian businesses have long violated rules governing purchases by the state of privately produced goods, allowing people on both sides to corruptly enrich themselves, the Accounting Chamber says. But the pandemic has opened the way for a dramatic expansion in such violations.

            Both the government and business took advantage of a situation in which contracts constantly had to be changed because of breakdowns in the production chain and in which normal supervision was impossible, the auditors say (

            But they point out that officials and businessmen in other countries largely avoided such problems, an indication that both government and business in Russia viewed the pandemic as an opportunity to evade the rules rather than the pandemic being something that forced them to change course.

            What remains to be seen is whether corruption will return to pre-pandemic levels in this sector or whether the Russian officials and businessmen involved will see the new levels of corruption as a reality that they would like to maintain regardless of what Russian legal arrangements specify.

            The pandemic in many cases forced the regime to operate on the basis of single-source contracting, something that almost invariably allows for corruption; and it also meant that contracts were handled in a more informal and quite changeable fashion, something that opened the way for more of it.

            Between 2014 and 2020, the Auditing Chamber says, the number of contracts violating Russian law grew 400 percent, with last year being far the worst. The sums the government treasury lost as a result, it continues, were 700 percent larger in 2020 than they had been three years earlier.

            And also last year, it reports, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service found 41,000 violations of the law in government contracting, a figure twice as high as three years earlier.

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