Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a federal law acceding to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s anti-bribery convention on Feb. 1, 2012. Russia joins thirty-four other countries to have joined the convention.
Russia criminalized foreign bribery in May 2011, and was invited to join the convention that same month. However, joining the convention was a condition that Russian was required to fulfill prior to joining the OECD.
The bribery law signed in May 2011 is similar to the U.K. Bribery Act in terms of its scope and breadth. It criminalizes commercial bribery and prohibits both offering bribes to foreign government officials and accepting such bribes. It provides no exceptions for grease payments, and it does reach foreign entities doing business in Russia. Thus, as with several countries’ laws, entities that do business in Russia could be subject to liability under their own country’s law, as well as Russia’s.
The law defines foreign government official to include any appointed or elected official who has a position in any legislative, executive, administrative, or judicial branch of a foreign country or an individual who serves any public function for a foreign country or a public agency or a public enterprise. As a result, it appears to encompass employees of government-owned enterprises, as the US Government has interpreted the US FCPA.
The law also increased the penalties that may be imposed upon an individual or entity found in violation. Fines and the available ranges of incarceration under the new law vary depending upon the type of bribe and the official involved, and the court may prevent the offender from holding certain governmental or corporate positions in the future.
The law had previously allowed considerable prison sentences for bribery (up to 12 years), but prison sentences were much more rare than fines. As a result, while the new law does impose stiffer penalties for violations, it remains to be seen exactly how strictly and aggressively the law will be enforced.© 2013 Dinsmore & Shohl LLP. All rights reserved.