Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a measure that bans top officials and their families from holding foreign accounts, an act aimed at improving the government’s image.
Putin on Tuesday signed the bill that includes a ban on owning foreign bank accounts or other financial instruments such as stocks and bonds by ministers, law enforcement officials, judges, central bankers, soldiers as well as their spouses and children.
The signed law is the modified version of the original, based on which senior figures were also forbidden from owning a property in a foreign country.
Putin eliminated the clause and the revised bill was approved by both houses of parliament on April 27.
Critics and the members of the opposition accuse Putin and other officials of owning vast estates worldwide, saying that they have changed the bill to protect their own assets.
The government’s image has been tarnished recently by a tax scandal and economic downturn.
In April, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and his wife Olga came under fire after international media leaked documents of top officials around the world with offshore accounts and trusts in the British Virgin Islands tax haven.
Putin's powerful chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, said, "There are no -- and can be no -- untouchables in the fight against corruption."
Some research institutes estimate corruption amounts in Russia to be a third of the country’s gross domestic product, while others suggest it to be close to 10 percent.
This comes as the Russian government recently reduced the country's 2013 growth forecasts to 2.4 percent from its originally predicted 3.6, amid stagnating exports and faltering investment.