Non-cash bribes to lead to jail time
The main idea is to count not only cash payments but
also non-cash benefits extended as bribery. "In accordance with the
recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), Russia's
General Prosecutor has ordered the preparation of amendments to the Criminal Code. The
amendments in question are to define not only cash and other benefits with
monetary value but also any non-cash benefits as bribes, and institute criminal
responsibility for so-called influence peddling," said Deputy Prosecutor
General Alexander Buksman.
"In all likelihood, compensations in any form, including incentives, promotions,
services, assistance in return for illegal actions, as well as intended
inaction, will now be counted as non-cash bribes," said Alexander
Selyutin, managing partner and lawyer at the firm Selyutin and Partners,
commenting on the bill.
"That said, it would actually be good if the law applied to everyone, regardless
of their positions," Selyutin said, adding that in the United States,
even the president is not immune to criminal liability for corruption. Meanwhile,
Russian lawyers doubt that the law will truly help fight corruption. According
to lawyer Vadim Kobzev, the broader concept of bribery proposed by the
Prosecutor General's Office will hardly have any practical effect. "As we
have seen from experience, the overwhelming majority of criminal cases on
counts of corruption deal with the receipt of cash or cash equivalents in the
form of shares and buildings, which can be easily and precisely
evaluated," Kobzev said. This
latest idea is irrelevant to the current situation, in his view.
"I have never heard about any cases where this would be a problem for investigation
or court," said Kobzev. It is even technically possible to determine the
value of the services that the General Prosecutor's Office is now targeting — granting
university degrees, publications in the press, or sexual services. "The
law we have now has everything in it to enhance the fight against corruption,
and these war cries and initiatives do no good. There is nothing to prevent
dealing with this problem today, we just need to learn to solve cases," lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant
Lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov, on the other hand, praised the authors of the bill
for a measure that he feels was taken in advance. "The bill is necessary
in light of ongoing development trends in modern society. Russia's
current Criminal Code makes it difficult to bring criminal proceedings against corrupt
officials, since it requires an assessment of the bribe; the amendments address
this problem," he said.
According to Zherebenkov, the article on non-cash services should be introduced
Criminal Code "simply to make people aware of possible criminal liability
for providing and using certain services."
Under the current Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the offer or
acceptance of a bribe is punishable by fines of up to a 100 times the size of
the bribe, imprisonment for up to 15 years, as well as
disqualification from holding certain positions for an extended period of time.