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A step in the right direction – Russia’s proposed regulation of bribery in arbitration


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Corruption has been a feature of human existence for thousands of years; it is considered <<an insidious plague>> (Kofi A. Annan), which has a destructive impact on both states and societies. Unfortunately, both international commercial arbitration and Russian domestic arbitration can be tainted by corruption.

On 2 June 2014, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation announced draft amendments to the Criminal Code of Russia, which are designed to combat bribery of domestic arbitrators. Mikhail Samoylov, Senior Associate at KIAP Attorneys at Law and Lexis®PSL Arbitration contributor, discusses this latest development.

What amendments are proposed?

The draft bill creates two new criminal offences of: (1) bribing an arbitrator; and, (2) receiving a bribe as an arbitrator.

The draft of article 202.2 of the Criminal Code of Russia provides:

An illegal transfer of money to an arbitrator [or acceptance it by an arbitrator], securities, other property, provision of the service of property or non-property nature, provision of other property or non-property rights, other improper benefits, including when specified property or other benefits intend for any particular individual or entity, as well as offering or promising to provide to arbitrator money, securities, other property, service of property or non-property nature, property or non-property rights, other undue advantages, including when specified property or other benefits intend for any particular individual or entity over [for] arbitrator of himself powers in the interests of the giver or other person contrary to objectives of its activities

The proposed punishment of an individual (only individual are subject to a criminal liability pursuant to the Criminal Code of Russia) for bribing an arbitrator is:

a fine of between ten to fifty times the amount of bribe, with deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities for a term up to two years, or restraint of liberty for a term up to two years, or hard labor for a term up to three years, or imprisonment for the same term

The punishment of an arbitrator for receiving a bribe is more severe:

a fine of between fifteen to seventeen times the amount of bribe with deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities for a term up to three years, or hard labor for a term up to five years with deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities for a term up to three years or without it, or imprisonment for up to seven years with a fine of up to one hundred times the amount of bribe

The draft amendments also specify some additional circumstances that aggravate the offence, namely: if the crime is committed by a group of persons conspiring together, or by an organised group; illegal actions by the arbitrator (eg arbitrator received a bribe and resolved a case in absence of an arbitration agreement) or omissions by the arbitrator (eg arbitrator bound to resolve a dispute within two weeks, but takes a bribe and doesn’t resolve the case for, say, 5 months); and, where the arbitrator extorts a bribe.

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