HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
Russia Broadens the Definition of an “Official”

Russia has adopted a law clarifying the provisions of the Criminal Code regarding the term “official”.

According to Federal Law of February 24, 2021 No. 16-FZ “On Amendments to Articles 201 and 285 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation”, liability for the crimes provided for by chapters 23 and 30 and article 304 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, including the abuse of functions, passive and active bribery, petty bribery, bribery facilitation and business bribery may now be imposed on individuals exercising functions of public officials or other organizational and managerial or administrative and economic functions in: 

  • žeconomic entities, where the Russian Federation, a region of the Russian Federation or a municipality is entitled to dispose directly or indirectly (through persons under their control) of over 50% of votes in their supreme governing body or where the Russian Federation, a region of the Russian Federation or a municipality is entitled to appoint (elect) a single executive body and (or) over 50% of membership of a collective governing body;
  • joint stock companies subject to a special right of the Russian Federation, regions of the Russian Federation or municipalities to participate in the management of these entities (a “golden share”). 

Therefore, the list of organisations whose employees can be prosecuted for the commission of the aforementioned crimes has been considerably expanded: whereas previously in the case of economic entities only employees of joint stock companies whose major stock-holder was the State, a region of the Russian Federation or a municipality were considered as officials, now the list of officials also includes the employees of joint stock companies and other economic entities which are “controlled entities” as defined by the respective legislation.

The amendments to the Russian Criminal Code can be considered as a step towards further expansion of the list of State-owned entities whose employees can be held liable for corruption offences.

However, some important problems still remain to be solved in this area, primarily, those regarding the enforcement of disciplinary sanctions. In particular, employees of the organisations established by State corporations or controlled by them and employees of the organisations subordinate to public bodies of the regions of the Russian Federation and local government bodies are still exempt from the anti-corruption restrictions, prohibitions and obligations provided for by articles 349.1 and 349.2 of the Labour Code of the Russian Federation. The relevant bill that addresses this problem had been earlier introduced to the State Duma of the Russian Federation but it was subsequently withdrawn by the Government of the Russian Federation even before its first reading.

Criminal prosecution

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