Putin says Russia seeking IMF reform, battling offshores

Thu Jun 13, 2013 4:01pm EDT

* Hopes for agreements boosting emerging market clout at IMF

* Praises G8 host Cameron for tackling tax haven troubles

* Russia holds G20 presidency, takes G8 helm next year

By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW, June 14 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund needs "thorough reform" and Russia will push for deals giving developing countries more clout in time for a G20 summit it is hosting in September, President Vladimir Putin said in remarks published on Friday.

In an interview with Russian state news agency RIA before next week's G8 summit in Northern Ireland, Putin emphasised Russia's role as current G20 president and next year's leader of the Group of Eight industrialised nations.

He mixed criticism and praise, getting in digs at the West but casting Russia as a constructive partner eager to help.

The IMF often responds too slowly to changes in financial markets and the implementation of its decisions "leaves much to be desired as well," Putin said. "A good example is the global financial crisis, which the IMF system failed to prevent."

Talks on revising the IMF quota and voting systems to enhance the role of the BRICS countries and other developing nations "are not going smoothly. I would say that they have actually come to a standstill since 2010," he said.

IMF member countries have wrangled for more than two years over specifics of a formula to determine member countries' voting power that would give emerging economies greater say in the global financial institution.

"We will make maximum efforts to persuade our partners to reach a compromise and find mutually acceptable solutions in the run-up to the G20 summit in St Petersburg," said Putin, who will host the meeting in his hometown.

He said that when Russia takes the helm of the G8 next year and holds the summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics will take place next February, it will focus on "searching for responses to new security threats."

He had praise for next week's summit host, British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country is using its G8 presidency to push for a global clampdown on complex arrangements used to disguise wealth and minimise tax payments.

Putin, who pledged a "de-offshorisation" push to stem capital flight after returning to the Kremlin last year for a third presidential term, stressed that the problem is not Russia's alone.

"We have all seen how not long ago the head of Apple answered the awkward questions of senators about the fact that his company keeps tens of billions of dollars ... outside American tax boundaries," Putin said.

He said Russia advocates bilateral agreements with offshore jurisdictions aimed at curbing illegal tax-minimisation schemes.

"DEPENDENCY MENTALITY"

Putin, who often contrasts Russia favourably with the West, said that some European countries were living beyond their means and many were seeing "a rise of dependency mentality, when not working is often much more beneficial than working."

"For Russia, such an approach is unacceptable," he said - but he added that leading European nations were carrying out structural reforms and said "we should not reject the European social model."

Putin said that there was a "certain stagnation right now within the World Trade Organization," which Russia joined last year after nearly two decades trying. "However, this is no reason to tear this structure down."

He said Russia is accused of falling short of fulfilling its WTO commitments but has its own complaints, saying it is unreasonably denied access to some markets in fertilizers, chemicals, automotive fuel and pipes, among other goods.

Putin, who skipped the G8 summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama last year and will meet Obama for the first time since last June, made only brief mention of global political and security issues in the interview.

G8 leaders "plan to talk about the situation in Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, Afghanistan and so on. We expect that the results of this discussion will be useful" he said.

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