They want to remove three economic articles from the Criminal Code
A photo: Artem KILKIN
The fact that law enforcement agencies see an entrepreneur, first of all, as a fraudster, with all the ensuing consequences, has been talked about for many years from the highest tribunes. In the case of even innocent violations on the part of a businessman – a loan not paid on time or failure to fulfill obligations under an agreement – the law enforcement system gladly sends him to places not so remote, from where it is, alas, impossible to manage a business. As a result, the work of enterprises and organizations stops, hired employees remain without work. But small and medium-sized businesses in most developed countries are the backbone of the economy.
Recently, the Ministry of Justice has prepared a draft, according to which certain elements of economic crimes should be decriminalized and the damage threshold should be raised to bring entrepreneurs to criminal liability.
It is proposed in particular:
Remove three economic articles from the Criminal Code: Art. 170 (registration of illegal real estate transactions), art. 170.2 (introducing false information into a land survey plan, technical plan, survey act, land survey project or a map-plan of the territory) and Art. 185.1 (malicious evasion of disclosure or provision of information about securities);
Exempt businesses from criminal penalties for illegal business (without registration);
Increase by 1.5 times the maximum amount of damage to be held liable under the article of the Criminal Code on fraud in connection with failure to fulfill contractual obligations in the field of entrepreneurship (Article 159). The amount of significant damage will increase from 10 thousand to 25 thousand rubles, large – from 3 million to 4.5 million rubles, and especially large – from 12 million to 18 million rubles.
The adoption of the bill, according to representatives of the Ministry of Justice, will help improve the business climate and minimize the risks of criminal prosecution of businessmen.
Vladimir Putin once again raised the topic of undue pressure on Russian business at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June. The President is confident that now there is no need to “go and check everyone in a row,” and suggested that businesses whose activities are not associated with high risks of harm should be exempted from inspections. In addition, the head of state proposed decriminalizing a number of economic crimes and raising the threshold for liability for non-payment of customs and other payments.
It is to the instructions of the President that the Ministry of Justice refers in the explanatory note to the bill. But it seems that the business community expected more.
“I have a feeling that these proposals were made for the sake of formality,” Alexander Khurudzhi, an entrepreneur and head of the New People Party Committee for Legal Protection, said on the air of Komsomolskaya Pravda radio. – Under these articles, no one was imprisoned anyway, once again there was a substitution of concepts. The most valuable thing in these proposals is to increase by one and a half times the maximum amount of damage for prosecution under the article of the Criminal Code on fraud. But fundamentally, this will not solve the problem – the business was not waiting for this. And the President asked to remove the problem, and here they formally tried to approach the issue.
The main problem that requires urgent solutions, according to Alexander Khurudzhi, is the unjustified detention of entrepreneurs in a pre-trial detention center.
“There are situations when an entrepreneur compensates for the damage, and still remains in a pre-trial detention center, and it happens that he is charged with a crime in the field of entrepreneurial activity, where the amount of damage caused is taken from the ceiling,” says the expert. – Sometimes in such cases even the victim is missing. And the businessman sits in a pre-trial detention center for years, not even knowing what to defend himself against.
In Russia, from the highest rostrums, they have been talking for many years about the need to reduce pressure on business, but in reality, everything often happens the other way around.
“We have a lot of controllers,” lawyer Dmitry Grigoriadi, a public representative of business ombudsman Boris Titov, recently told KP (see “Pressure on business is an explosive mixture of corruption with a desire to curry favor”). – If we take only investigative bodies, then we now have five of them: the Investigative Committee, the Ministry of Internal Affairs represented by the Investigation Department, district investigators, etc., and there is also the FSB, the Federal Customs Service and the Bailiff Service. Well, since there are many control bodies, then the palette of pressure on businessmen is quite large. It is not only related to criminal cases. These are unreasonable and excessive fines, and suspension of activities, these are constant checks.
Over the past three years, there has been an increase in the growth of criminal cases initiated by economic offenses. One of the most common articles of the Criminal Code (lawyers even call it popular) is Article 159 “Fraud”.
– This article is used and an entrepreneur is imprisoned, for example, because he did not partially repay the loan, although the loan was secured by collateral, – Dmitry Grigoriadi continues. – Of course, there are indeed scammers, but there are many cases where there really were objective circumstances. For example, there was a poultry farm case where a person received a loan 10 years ago, everything was secured by collateral. But there was a fire at the poultry farm, as a result, the entrepreneur ended up in prison. And there are stories with partial non-fulfillment of contracts. He didn’t deliver something, didn’t fulfill something, somewhere, maybe he went bankrupt – and immediately the person is sent to prison. Our main problem with pressure on business is related to the fact that civil disputes that should be considered in arbitration are considered by the investigating authorities. That is, the investigation has now replaced civilian judges.
Modest appreciated the initiative of the Ministry of Justice and the Commissioner under the President of Russia for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs Boris Titov. Many entrepreneurs hope that in the process of discussing the bill, it will be finalized and expanded.