Russian capital flight slows as economic outlook improves – central bank

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The outflow has decreased substantially since the beginning of the year, the regulator reports

Capital flight from Russia decreased more than threefold in annual terms in the first quarter of the year, the central bank announced on Thursday.

The figure was estimated at $21 billion in the first three months of 2023, which is about 40% less than in the last quarter of 2022, when it was $36 billion, the regulator said in a note.   

The outflow was 3.7 times lower than the same period last year, when it reached $77 billion.   

The head of the central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, previously told the Russian parliament that the regulator had raised its estimate for capital flight from the country in 2022.  

According to a revised assessment, capital flight in the private sector last year is now estimated at a record $227 billion, compared to the February figure of $217 billion. This is triple the amount registered in 2021, when $72 billion was transferred from the country, and is quadruple that in 2020 – when capital flight totaled $50 billion for the entire year.  

The record outflow took place even though sweeping Western sanctions significantly complicated the process of transferring money out of Russia.   

Despite unprecedented international pressure, the Russian economy is on track for solid growth. Earlier this month, both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised their growth forecasts. The IMF noted Moscow was “able to maintain quite a bit of momentum in the economy by taking very strong fiscal measures.”

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