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Putin hopes to bring home Russians' overseas wealth, using sanctions threat

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked his Cabinet to finalize a new capital amnesty program hoping it would help bring back some of Russians' overseas wealth, amid increasing foreign sanctions against the country, Bloomberg News reported.

The leader told lawmakers Dec. 25 that the program, which is needed because of the ongoing foreign restrictions, which are now worsening, "should stimulate the return of capital to Russia."

Bloomberg News cited an estimate that Russian entrepreneurs' overseas assets exceeded $1 trillion.

"We and our entrepreneurs have repeatedly faced unjustified and illegal asset freezes under the guise of sanctions," Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said on a conference call on Dec. 26, according to the report.

After the U.S. added a number of prominent Russians to its sanctions list last week, Peskov reportedly warned Dec. 25 that additional U.S. sanctions could damage ties with the U.S. beyond repair.

The new program will waive the 13% income tax for business representatives transferring their foreign business to Russia, the head of state added, according to Russian news agency TASS.

A similar program was launched during the conflict in Ukraine, during which time oil prices plunged, but that program "didn't work as well as we'd hoped," the Russian finance minister, Anton Siluanov, said, as reported by Bloomberg.