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US Official: Putin Behavior 'Picture of Corruption'

FILE - Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, Jan. 21, 2016.

A senior U.S. Treasury official is accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption, saying the Kremlin leader uses his position to enrich friends and allies at the expense of others.

Adam Szubin, who oversees U.S. Treasury sanctions, makes the accusation in a BBC documentary scheduled for broadcast Monday evening. In the broadcast, Szubin says the U.S. government has known of Putin’s corruption for “many, many years.”

Other U.S. officials have made similar comments to reporters in private, but seldom in a public forum. The United States is seeking Russian assistance on Syria and other pressing issues.

In the BBC program, Panorama, Szubin says the United States has seen Putin “enriching his friends, his close allies, and marginalizing those who he doesn't view as friends using state assets. 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."

A spokesman for Putin rejects the charges out of hand, according to the BBC. It quotes the Kremlin spokesman saying, “none of these questions or issues needs to be answered, as they are pure fiction.”