Russia's foreign debt continues to increase

Russia's foreign debt for the first half of 2013 amounted to USD 49 568.1 million, according to Statistics Registry. That is 19% higher than in H1 2012. According to the data of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the amount of foreign debt to April 1, 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 increased by 23.04% to a record USD 691 billion, USD 206 billion of which fall to share of commercial banks’ debts and USD 408 billion – to the share of other businesses and organizations. The size of the foreign debt per capita is 162 thousand rubles.

The amount of foreign debt has become come up rapidly since 2005, constantly increasing the rate. With the beginning of the crisis in 2008, the growth has hesitated in the banking sector firstly. Reduction was observed in the crisis year of 2009. But already in 2010 the growth of foreign debt was found to be and it amounted to USD 467 billion for January 1, 2010. For 2011-2012 it increased by 11.5%.

The bulk of foreign debt is accounted for by the private sector. But principal borrowers could be named l the private sector by a long stretch of the imagination, because the major debtors are the largest state-owned companies and banks. Despite the fact that formally the state is not liable for the debts of the enterprises and organizations, the experience of the 2008 crisis showed that in a critical situation the state prevented the bankruptcy of many companies from the contingency fund. In many ways this was the reason that the Russian anti-crisis program was one of the most expensive in the world in terms of GDP and was variously estimated RUB 10 trillion or 25% of GDP in 2008.

That is why the foreign debts of public enterprises are called "quasi-public" and part of the risk in the payment of the debts is covered by the state.

Who are the main debtors? In 2011, the total debt of "Rosneft" amounted to USD 23.4 billion. Due to the need to obtain a large loan by company in 2012 (according to estimates range from USD 35 to 38 billion) for the purchase of "TNK-BP" it increased substantially. The total debt "Gazprom" has also significantly increased because of construction of "South Stream", the largest pipeline system in Europe. The cost of the project is currently estimated at USD 23 billion. "Russian Railways", "Russian Aluminum", "Lukoil", "Severstal", "RusHydro", as well as banks VTB and Sberbank are also among the leaders of foreign debts.

Due to the situation, the question “why do domestic large companies apply for loans to foreign investors?” arises. Firstly, the Russian banks do not have sufficient funds to meet the investment demand from large enterprises. Secondly, financial market segments, giving the "long" money, such as pension and insurance funds unfortunately are not sufficiently developed in the country. Thirdly, borrowing abroad, especially in the long term, is just more profitable, because of the high rate of inflation and high interest rates refinancing by the Central Bank.

Is the size of the foreign debt of critical? The size of the foreign debt is currently 28% of GDP, which is not a critical figure. But analyzing the ratio of debt to the part of GDP, accounting for non-budget enterprises and organization (about 60% of GDP), the resulting figure is about to 50%.

Excluding small and medium-sized businesses that do not take foreign loans, the ratio of debt will come to 70%, which certainly can be considered critical.

Indices of corporate counterparty integrity

Entrepreneurs in their business have to deal with many corporate counterparties. Therefore there is a problem of verifying their integrity before entering into transaction.

According to items 1, 7 and 9 of the Resolution № 53 of the Plenum of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation from 12.10.2006, jurisdiction of tax disputes settlement is based on the presumption of good faith of taxpayers and other parties involved in the economy. Even if the taxpayer is under an accusation of tax offense on account of trade connections with fly-by-night company, commercial courts pronounce for the taxpayer if he can prove due diligence when choosing a contractor, economic expediency of transaction and matching the transaction price to market prices.

Legislation, including the Tax Code of the RF, does not contain a specific list of documents that the taxpayer has to require from the contractor in order to minimize the risks. However, the explanations and recommendations are set out in departmental letters.

In the letter № 03-03-06/1/477 of the Ministry of Finance from 21.07.2010 the minimum of required documents and demands in order to confirm the integrity of the counterparty is specified: existence of copy of the certificate of registration with a tax authority, verification the entering of the data about a counterparty in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, obtainment of a power of attorney or other document authorizing a person to sign documents on behalf of the contractor, the use of official sources of information concerning of counterparty activities. The letter № 3-7-07/84 of the Federal Tax Service from February 11, 2010 supplements the mentioned list: companies must be registered in the established order; have a license for a specific activity (if such a requirement is established by law); location address must not belong to the address of "mass registration" of fly-by-night companies; disqualified person must not enter the legal entity (this refers to the head and chief accountant of the organization). Information about the facts of their involvement in the tax or administrative responsibility, or lack thereof must be included.

In addition to the documentary evidence, the history of a potential counterparty, its reputation in the market, brand awareness should be looked into.

Specialized Information-analytical system Globas-i helps online to find all the necessary information about the counterparty: registration data, information on licenses, litigation, and the management team. Reliability index due to which it will be possible to identify fly-by-night companies is under the process of implementation.