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THE RUSSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW

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The Russian anti-corruption law, federal law No. 273, dated December 25, 2008, was enacted during the term of the president and jurist, Dmitri Anatolievitch Medvedev, whose term lasted from 2008 to 2012.  The law was designed to curb potential shady relationships between the private sector and the Russian government.

As such, the law begins with a sweeping definition of corruption:

Corruption means abuse of power or authority, giving bribes, accepting bribes, commercial or other bribes, illegal use by an individual of his official position contrary to the legitimate interests of society and the State, in order to obtain benefits in the form of money, objects of value, other assets or services of a patrimonial nature, etc., property rights for themselves or for third parties, or illegal provision of such benefits to a person specified by other individuals.

As seen from the above definition, the law covers both the corruptor (who gives bribes) and the corrupt (who accepts bribes).

The Russian anti-corruption law establishes seven foundational principles:

1) recognition, provision, and protection of human and civil rights and fundamental freedoms;

2) legality;

3) publicizing and opening up the activities of local state and autonomous agencies;

4) inevitability of responsibility for committing crimes of corruption;

5) the complex use of political, organizational, information and propaganda, socioeconomic, legal, special, and other measures;

6) priority application of measures to prevent corruption; and

7) State cooperation with civil society institutions, international organizations, and individuals.

In the field of extraterritoriality, Russian law also innovates. It applies to Russian citizens or foreign citizens practicing acts of corruption in Russian territory. The law promotes the signing of international treaties to hold foreign citizens, stateless persons who do not permanently reside in Russia, foreign legal persons with legal capacity created under the laws of foreign countries, international organizations, as well as their branches and representative offices, suspected of committing crimes of corruption outside Russia.

Regarding the competence to fight corruption, the law attributes it to the organs of federal power, the organs of state power of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, and the organs of local autonomous governments, with competing competence for the creation of acts between the president or government leaders of the Russian Federation.

As anti-corruption measures, the Russian law lists the following criteria:

1) awareness of intolerance to corrupt behavior in society;

2) the anti-corruption assessment of legal acts and their projects;

3) the presentation, in the form of the law, of the qualification requirements of the citizens who are candidates for state or municipal positions and for the positions of the state or municipal service, as well as the verification in the prescribed form of information provided by these citizens;

4) establish as a basis for dismissal from office and/or removal of substitute for public service position included in the list established by the normative acts of the Russian Federation, for failure to provide information or to send information known to be inaccurate or incomplete about its income, expenses, property assets, and obligations, as well as sending information known to be false about income, expenses, assets and debts owned by their spouses and minor children;

5) the introduction into practice of the work of the personnel of the federal organs of state power, organs of state power of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, bodies of local autonomous governments of the rule, according to which, the long-term, perfect and effective performance by a public official of his official functions, having to be taken into account, the absence of absences, the exercise of a superior position, a military or special position, a diplomatic position or his promotions; and

6) development of institutions for public and parliamentary control over compliance with Russian Federation legislation on combating corruption.

However, the highlight of the law are the measures designed to improve the effectiveness of the fight against corruption:

1) pursue a unified state policy in the field of combating corruption;

2) create a mechanism for interaction between law enforcement and other State bodies with public and parliamentary anti-corruption commissions, as well as with citizens and civil society institutions;

3) adopt legislative, administrative, and other measures aimed at raising awareness among state and municipal officials, as well as citizens, for more active participation in the fight against corruption, to cultivate a negative attitude towards corrupt behavior in society;

4) improve the system and the structure of the State organs, creating mechanisms of public control over their activities;

5) introduce anti-corruption rules, that is, the establishment of a unified system of prohibitions, restrictions, and authorizations for the area of activity concerned, ensuring the prevention of corruption in this area;

6) unify the rights of state and municipal officials, persons who hold public positions in the Russian Federation, public positions in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, positions of heads of municipalities, municipal offices, as well as restrictions, prohibitions, and duties established for these employees people;

7) guaranteeing citizens' access to information on the activities of the federal organs of state power, organs of state power of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and bodies of the local autonomous government;

8) guarantee the independence of the media;

9) maintain strict observance of the principles of independence of the judges and non-interference in the judicial activity;

10) improve the organization of the activities of regulatory and law enforcement bodies to combat corruption;

11) improve the procedure for transferring state and municipal services;

12) to ensure honesty, transparency, fair competition, and objectivity in making requests for the supply of goods, carrying out works, providing services for state or municipal needs;

13) eliminate unjustified prohibitions and restrictions, especially in the field of economic activity;

14) improve the procedure for using state and municipal assets, state and municipal resources (including the provision of state and municipal assistance), as well as the procedure for transferring rights to use such assets and their disposal;

15) increase the level of remuneration and social protection for state and municipal employees;

16) strengthen international cooperation and develop effective forms of cooperation with law enforcement agencies and special services, with financial intelligence units and other competent authorities from foreign countries and international organizations in the field of combating corruption and tracking, confiscation and repatriation of assets obtained by corruption and located abroad;

17) reinforce control over the resolution of problems contained in the resources of citizens and legal entities;

18) transfer part of the functions of State bodies to self-regulatory organizations, as well as other non-governmental organizations;

19) reduce the number of state and municipal employees by simultaneously attracting qualified specialists for state and municipal assistance;

20) increase the accountability of the organs of the federal government, organs of the government of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, bodies of the local government and their employees for the omission of measures to eliminate the causes of corruption;

21) Optimize and specify the attributes of the State's organs and its employees, which should be reflected in administrative and official regulations.

The Russian anti-corruption law requires the declaration of income earned in the last three years by the candidate to be appointed a government official, in particular public positions, including the income of spouses and children.  The law also obliges all public officials to inform their manager, the Public Prosecutor's Office or other State bodies of all cases in which any person contacts them, to induce them to commit crimes of corruption.

Another interesting point of the Russian anti-corruption law is its coverage of issues involving conflicts of interest. It starts by defining conflicts of interest as situations in which the personal interest (direct or indirect) of the public official affects or may affect their performance, potentially creating a contradiction between the personal interest of a government official and the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, organizations, society or the nation. In the face of a potential conflict of interest, the government official must immediately communicate it in writing to their superior.

Regarding holding individuals accountable for corruption, government officials can be dismissed from public service and imprisoned, while corruptors can be arrested.

Finally, a fascinating measure added to the law, which took effect on August 19, 2013, was the ban on public officials having foreign bank accounts or assets in other countries. The prohibition also extends to spouses of government officials and their minor children and candidates for elective office. At the time, Russian senators with accumulated fortunes reaching US $ 750 million were identified, and several politicians were "forced" to end their political careers.

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