Aleksei Kudrin, Russia's former finance minister and a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin, says tens of billions of dollars in cash outflows from the country can be traced to the arrest of a prominent American investment fund manager.
Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 6, Kudrin called the arrest of Michael Calvey "a shock" for Russia's economy, adding that the volume of cash outflow from the country doubled because of his arrest in February.
"Undoubtedly, [Calvey's arrest] is a shock. Since the beginning of this year the cash outflow from Russia doubled and reached $40 billion," said Kudrin, who now heads the Audit Chamber, an oversight agency that monitors the spending of government funding.
The arrest of Calvey, who founded the Moscow-based private equity group Baring Vostok Capital Partners in 1994, stunned many Western investors and drew complaints from high-level Russian business leaders and government officials, who questioned the motivations of the courts and prosecutors.
It also came at a time as the country's business climate already faced stiff headwinds for many reasons, including the economic sanctions imposed by the United States, Japan, and European allies for Moscow's 2014 seizure of Crimea and alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections.
In April, a Moscow court ordered Calvey to be released from pretrial detention and placed under house arrest instead.
U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman and other U.S. diplomats in Russia are not attending the St. Petersburg forum to protest Calvey's arrest and his ongoing prosecution.
Kudrin, a highly respected economist who helped stabilize Russia's finances and attract investors as finance minister during Putin's first two terms, is seen as more liberal than many of the former KGB and security-services officers in circles close to the president.
Although he often makes statements critical of the government, Kudrin is believed to be on close terms with Putin.
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia's biggest, oldest, and arguably best-known gathering for global investors, was established in 1997 and has been formally organized by Russia's presidential administration since 2006.