State body found guilty of cartel agreement
The Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation (FAS) has concluded its investigation into the Russian fish market. The FAS acknowledged that there was a cartel agreement between several Russian importers of Norweigan salmon and trout and that the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) was responsible for this cartel. This is the first time that such an accusation has been brought against a state body.
Parties found in breach of antimonopoly laws face a fine of up to 15 % of the company's turnover. FAS will be appealing to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs to commence criminal proceedings against the Rosselkhoznadzor officials responsible for the cartel. They face a possible 6 years' imprisonment if found guilty. FAS is also investigating claims that there is a similar cartel in operation among Norwegian fish suppliers.
New Russian anti-money laundering laws
The Federal Law Amending Certain Legislative Acts in Relation to Combatting Illegal Financial Operations, dated 28 June 2013 was officially published on 30 June 2013 (the Act). This Act amends several existing provisions (Federal Laws Nos: 129-FZ, 402-FA, 127-FZ) and provides:
- tax authorities the right to block the accounts of an organisation which submits tax declarations in electronic form if the company fails to send confirmation of receipt of documents sent to it by the tax authorities via email;
- tougher criminal sanctions in cases of non-return of currency revenue (up to 5 years' imprisonment in cases of non-return involving more than RUB 6m during a year and up to 10 years in cases involving more than RUB 30m.); and
- re-introduction of the "Contraband" concept into the Criminal Code (in relation to cash and its equivalents); and
- introduction of the "beneficial owner" concept, but solely for the purposes of the anti-money laundering legislation; according to the proposed amendments banks will have to disclose the identity of such individuals in certain circumstances.
Most of the provisions of the Act came into force upon its official publication; however banks will not have to submit information on accounts and deposits of individuals until 1 July 2014. The remaining provisions will come into force on 1 January 2014 and on 1 January 2015.
Money laundering ring exposed
The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) has uncovered a group of individuals running a money laundering service out of Moscow. It is thought that the individuals involved were able to launder approximately USD 1.1bn over several years. Funds were transferred to the accounts of short-lived companies served by several allied banks. These funds were then cashed out and transferred to accounts opened in Cyprus and the Baltic States. MVD has commenced criminal proceedings against several individuals who are accused of organising or participating in a criminal group and illegal banking.