A new law that comes into effect in Russia on March 12, 2020, introduces antitrust compliance into Russian law. Among other things, this new law could serve as a legitimate basis for Russian subsidiaries of multinational companies to comply with global antitrust policies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the amendment to Federal Law No. 135-FZ “On the Protection of Competition” (the Amendment) on 1 March. The Amendment introduces the notion of antimonopoly (antitrust) compliance into Russian law and comes into force on 12 March 2020.

The Amendment defines the system for “procuring internally the compliance with the antimonopoly legislation requirements” (the antimonopoly compliance system) as a set of legal and organizational measures (a) provided in internal act(s) of a business entity or of another person belonging to the same group of persons with this business entity if such internal act(s) apply to such business entity, and (b) aimed at compliance with the antimonopoly legislation and preventing breaches. Under the Amendment, introduction of the antimonopoly compliance system is optional for a company regardless of its size and business.

Importantly, the Amendment allows a company to follow the compliance policies of other entities if these policies are designed to apply to that company. This is a very important rule: there is no other federal law in Russia that speaks about observing the so-called group or global policies, e.g., policies established by a parent entity to apply to its subsidiaries. In effect, this new rule could serve as a legitimate basis for Russian subsidiaries of multinational companies to comply with global antitrust policies. (To do so before this Amendment, a Russian company needed to adopt its own local policy mirroring the global policy.) Of course, by default, provisions that contradict Russian law will not apply.

The Amendment lists the following topics that must be covered in the antitrust policies:

  • Requirements applicable to the evaluation of risks of violating the antimonopoly legislation
  • Measures to mitigate the risks
  • Antimonopoly compliance control measures
  • Procedures for familiarizing the employees with the policies
  • Information on the antimonopoly compliance officer

A company introducing an antimonopoly compliance system must disclose on its website the information that it has its own antimonopoly compliance policies or adheres to the policies of another company.

The Amendment allows requesting the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), Russia’s competition regulator, to review the policies or their drafts for compliance with the Russian antimonopoly legislation. The FAS will have to provide its views within 30 days.

The FAS applies risk-based approach when it audits companies for antimonopoly compliance, and it differentiates between medium-, modest-, and low-risk companies. For example, no audit could be scheduled for a low-risk company. Importantly, when a company has the antimonopoly compliance system for more than one year, the FAS may put this company in a lesser category of risk (see Russia Government Decree of 1 March 2018, No. 213)