He said that development of Russia as an important financial centre would allow it to use the rouble to settle trade deals, borrow in its own currency and be independent from third party countries.
“Why shouldn’t oil be traded in Russia in roubles”, Herr Rudloff, a robust 69-year old, German-born financier who is also the only foreign non-executive director of Russian state oil company Rosneft, demanded of his audience.
However he cautioned that the path to developing an international class world financial centre would be long and required continuous persistence by the government and regulatory authorities.
“If Russia wants to live up to its ambitions then it must develop stability, security and continuity,” he said, pointing out that it took western countries such as Switzerland 100 years to create institutional stability.
Over a two-decade career at Credit Suisse First Boston, Herr Rudloff took charge of the investment bank’s global operations and spearheaded moves into Russia. Since becoming Barclays Capital’s chairman in 1998 he has actively expanded BarCap’s Russian business.
Once described as a one-man deal machine for Russia, he said at one point that he had made many investments in Russia since 1994 and not lost money on any of them, “because I selected the deals with care.”
With a charismatic wit, he cautioned foreign investors who speculated on Russia in the 1990’s were neither altruistic nor naïve. “They wanted to buy assets cheaply, and make a good return.”
Asked about how he was received by Russian officials, Herr Rudloff told the questioner, “I have a great advantage, I am credible. I have not been paid off, I have not been cheating left and right.”
“Many of the complaints I hear (about Russian corruption) are from people who should never ever complain because they did much worse and they don’t have the right to complain.”
He said the situation is that the legal framework is not able to help or does not want to help resolve corporate disputes with equanimity is “perfectly understood by Russian government officials I talk to. But that doesn’t mean (the changes talked about) will be implemented through the massive bureaucracy from top to bottom.”
He said that while the changes have to happen, they will not happen overnight. “They have to take place over many years.”
The Swiss-raised banker said not enough credit was given to Russia for undergoing “the most extraordinary political and economic transformation without bloodshed, without fragmentation and without a civil war” in recent history.