MICEX slides as banker says billions of dollars leaving Russia illegally

<p>Russia’s main stock index has lost ground after the central bank governor revealed the amount of cash illegally leaving the country.</p>

The Moscow MICEX index has lost ground in trading this afternoon (February 21st), after a Russian banking chief claimed billions of dollars is leaving the nation illegally every year.

Sergei Ignatiev, who governs Russia's central bank, said today that some $49 billion (£33 billion) escaped the country in this way in 2012 alone.

The capital flight – which is worth around 2.5 per cent of Russia's yearly economic output – was controlled by a "well-organised group of individuals".

Mr Ignatiev told the Russian media that the cash transfers could have been used to pay for supplies of illegal drugs, bribes and dodging taxes.

The banking chief is expected to step down from the top job in June of this year after more than a decade at the helm.

He stated that the so-called one-day companies used as vehicles for these illegal transfers are the "bane of [Russia's] economy".

At 16:00 GMT, the MICEX slipped by 0.7 per cent to an index value of 1511.4 points.

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