Amendments to the Criminal Code in the Economic Sphere

Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus came into effect on 19 July 2019 (Law of the Republic of Belarus of 9 January 2019 № 171-З (National Legal Internet Portal of the Republic of Belarus, 18.01.2019, 2/2609). Changes concerned the area of economic crime:

1) Excluded from measures of punishment: confiscation of property (Article 61 of the Criminal Code);

2) Excluded from the list of criminal crimes against procedure for conducting business activity: violation of the procedure for opening accounts outside the Republic of Belarus (Article 224 of the Criminal Code), hindering lawful entrepreneurial activities (Article 232 of the Criminal Code), entrepreneurial activities prohibited by legislative acts or entrepreneurial activities carried out without registration as required by law (Article 233 of the Criminal Code); pseudo-enterpreneurship (Article 234 of the Criminal Code), violation of anti-trust law (Article 244 of the Criminal Code), discreditation of business reputation of a competitor (Article 249 of the Criminal Code);

3) Large and especially large amounts as the criteria of economic crime have been increased: a large amount – over 1000 base values, an especially large amount– over 2000 base values;

4) Transactions involving precious metals and/or precious stones conducted in violation of the prescribed rules constitute a crime, if such transactions are conducted in a large amount for a second time by an organized group, or in an especially large amount (Article 223 of the Criminal Code). Measures of punishment for the said crimes have been changed.

5) Failure to return currency from abroad in an especially large amount, which in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Belarus has to be mandatorily transferred to accounts of the authorized bank of the Republic of Belarus, will be incriminated not only to officers of a legal entity, but also to individual entrepreneurs. An especially large threshold amount for such crime has been increased (not returned currency amount must four thousand fold exceed the base value amount set on the day of crime) (Article 225 of the Criminal Code);

6) A fine has been added as a punishment for customs payments evasion made for a second time or by a group of persons acting in collusion (Article 231 of the Criminal Code);

7) For legalization ("laundering”) of money obtained from criminal sources, confiscation of property has been replaced by a fine (Article 235 of the Criminal Code);

8) In the sphere of crediting and subsidizing, the fact of illegal obtaining of credit or subsidy, and not their swindling, constitutes now a criminal crime (Article 237 of the Criminal Code), provided that such action resulted in a large-scale damage (over 1 000 base values). Such aggravating circumstance as commission of this crime in order to obtain a targeted government credit has been excluded from the Article.

9) Concealment of tax base or its deliberate understatement, also by avoiding to file a tax return or entering knowingly false information into a tax return, constitute evasion of taxes or fees within the framework of the Criminal Code. Only those of the above mentioned actions which resulted in a large-scale damage (i.e. the amount 2 000-fold and more exceeding the base value amount set on the day of crime) will create criminal liability (Article 243 of the Criminal Code).

10) The list of persons who may be criminally prosecuted for receiving commercial bribery has been extended: this list now also includes persons who perform works or provide services to an individual entrepreneur or a legal entity under a civil law contract. Also the following actions have been criminalized: actions consisting in both giving commercial bribery to such persons and receiving by such persons of illegal gratification. A person who has given a bribe is released from criminal liability, if such a bribe was extorted from this person, or if after giving a bribe this person voluntarily reported what he/she has done and provided strong support in crime detection (Article 252 of the Criminal Code).

11) Disclosure of commercial or bank secrets for mercenary purpose by a person who knows such commercial or bank secrets due to his/her professional or official activities, which resulted in a large-scale damage, constitutes a crime (Article 255 of the Criminal Code).

For further information or explanation, please contact specialists of Collegia Law Firm.

Yuliya Ostreiko

Deputy Director for legal services, Certified Lawyer

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