London, Jan 26 (AFP) A senior US Treasury official has directly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption.
The US government imposed sanctions against a number of Kremlin insiders in 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, but did not accuse Putin of direct involvement in corruption.
However, during a Panorama investigation into Putin's "secret riches", Adam Szubin, the acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury in a BBC programme that aired yesterday said Putin was a "picture of corruption".
"We have seen him enriching his friends, his close allies, and marginalising those who he doesn't view as friends using state assets," Szubin, who oversees US Treasury sanctions, told the Panorama programme, in an unusually strong statement from the government on Putin's personal finances.
"Whether that's Russia's energy wealth, whether it's other state contracts, he directs those to whom he believes will serve him and excludes those who don't. To me, that is a picture of corruption."
The US government has known about this for "many, many years", he added.
The programme cited a secret CIA report from 2007 stating that Putin's wealth stood at around USD 40 billion.