MOSCOW, April 24 (RAPSI) - Tax havens are most often used to syphon off capital and evade taxes, reports on Wednesday with reference to Russian Audit Chamber statement.

"It is common practice for foreign economic operators to sign fictitious contracts with companies registered in offshore jurisdictions," the statement reads. "In reality, however, import products are shipped from their countries of origin and not from these tax havens. We see a similar thing happening with exports, too."

The volume of export import operations conducted through tax havens has grown over the past three years. The value of goods mentioned in foreign trade contracts with companies of this kind exceeded $321 billion in 2012.

The problem of tax havens and offshore banking zones surfaced after a financial crisis recently struck the isle of Cyprus. Russian banks and companies have favored Cyprus since the 1990s, taking advantage of the nation’s low taxes and lax business regulations. Russian banks held about $12 billion on deposit with Cypriot banks at the end of 2012, while Russian corporate deposits accounted for another $19 billion, according to estimates by the international rating agency Moody’s.