Just winging it? Russian President Vladimir Putin
Just winging it? Russian President Vladimir PutinReuters

A senior official in the United States government has publicly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption. 

Adam Szubin, who oversees sanctions in the US Treasury, told BBC Panorama on Monday that the Russian leader is definitely corrupt and the US government has known it for "many, many years."

"We've seen him enriching his friends, his close allies, and marginalizing those who he doesn't view as friends using state assets," Szubin  explained. 

"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."

While the US government issued sanctions against several Kremlin officials in 2014 and asserted Putin had secret investments, it has never before directly accused the Russian leader of corruption. 

A CIA report in 2007 put Putin's net worth at $40 billion, but all Szubin would say on the matter is that the Russian president continues to amass secret riches through various means. 

"He supposedly draws a state salary of something like $110,000 a year," Szubin said. "That is not an accurate statement of the man's wealth, and he has long-time training and practices in terms of how to mask his actual wealth." 

The Kremlin, needless to say, denies the allegations. In 2008, Putin himself called claims he was the richest man in Europe "simply rubbish. They just picked all of it out of someone’s nose and smeared it across their little papers."