Kremlin says Western sanctions behind move to scrap penalties for bringing funds home

MOSCOW, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to scrap penalties on funds repatriated from abroad is an attempt to protect Russian businesses from the “brutal infringements” they face in the West, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

With Washington eyeing new sanctions against Russia, Moscow has been preparing to renew legislation intended to make life easier for Russian businesses keen to move their money home.

The project, proposed by Putin on Monday and up for discussion next year, would revive an amnesty which expired in mid-2016.

It would see businesses freed from a 13 percent profit tax on funds repatriated from abroad, among other penalties.

“On numerous occasions we have encountered attempts to freeze assets... in an unjustified and unlawful manner. This is achieved using direct sanctions,” presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday.

“The president is backing an initiative which will create comfortable conditions for businesses interested in seizing the opportunity to return funds to Russia,” he said.

The original amnesty was introduced in 2015 amid huge capital outflows during a climate of deteriorating relations with the West over the conflict in Ukraine and worsening economic conditions following falls in the oil price.

Among other tools to encourage the return of money will be a sovereign Eurobond issue next year, aimed in part at providing a way for businesses to repatriate funds. (Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Peter Graff)