MP targets corruption with bill punishing promised bribes

© Mihail Kutusov
A State Duma lawmaker representing parliamentary majority party United Russia has prepared a draft law introducing criminal responsibility for promises, proposals and requests of bribery.

In an explanatory note attached to the bill, Anatoly Vyborny wrote that it had been prepared in order to fulfill Russia’s obligations within the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

Once passed, the bill would amend the Russian Criminal Code with new articles ordering punishment of up to eight years behind bars for anyone requesting or proposing a bribe as a means to resolve some problem or other.

READ MORE: Government drafts fresh bill seeking to curb corruption in Russian state tenders

Those convicted will also face fines up to 30 times the value of the proposed or requested bribe. The law would apply to corruption cases in state agencies and state-owned corporations and also in private companies – against managers who accept bribes in order to make decisions that would damage the interests of owners and shareholders.

Vyborny also wants to introduce into the Criminal Code an ‘abuse of influence’ article, punishing any transfer of money, securities or other property to some official in an effort to use the influence of this person in the decision-making process in a Russian or foreign state agency, or a public international organization.

The proposed punishment for this abuse is up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 15 times the size of proposed bribe.

The new bill also tightens the punishment for corruption in the existing articles of the criminal code and introduces changes into criminal procedure code allowing law enforcers to start anti-corruption processes without a complaint from the aggrieved party. The MP said that the latter changes were made in line with GRECO requirements and also because businessmen were generally reluctant to report about corruption even when they became victims.

Apart from fulfilling the recommendations of international bodies and groups, the new bill is also in line with the general anti-corruption policy of the Russian authorities. In January this year, President Vladimir Putin chaired the session of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Council and urged its members to step up their efforts, warning that if the anti-corruption program fails Russia would face much bigger problems.

The question is not in achieving some brilliant victories in this sphere today or tomorrow – this is a very difficult task. But if we stop now, things will only get worse. We must only move forward,” Putin said.

In May, the president submitted a bill to parliament introducing large fines or up to four years in prison for acting as a middleman in commercial graft. At the same time, the draft introduces softer punishment for first-time offenders convicted of graft and bribery. The bill covers not only direct money payments, but also transfers of securities, property or property rights and services.

READ MORE: Putin drafts bill on criminal responsibility for graft mediation

In June, the government proposed a draft law that, if passed, would automatically bar people and companies earlier punished for economic crimes from participation in government tenders. The ban also applies to people and firms who have been held accountable for graft and people banned by courts from taking certain posts or engaging in certain activities.