Experts discuss criminal cartel offense at a conference in Brussels
Andrei Tenishev, Head of the Competition Law Department at RANEPA Institute of Law and National Security (ILNS), took part in the international session of the Vedomosti conference on antitrust regulation in Russia, held in Brussels, Belgium, on October 27-28.
In his remarks at the conference, Andrei Tenishev emphasized that criminal liability for cartel conduct and other abuse of competition has finally begun to be enforced. “Although cartel offense was criminalized in 1996, only two convictions have been actually made since; 23 criminal cases are now being investigated under article 178 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, four of them went to court,” the Presidential Academy expert said.
He also noted the growing number of cases of collusion between state officials (customers) and contractor companies during public procurement. These cases are often accompanied by abuse of office by representatives of the authorities. However, there have been several convictions for restricting competition and abuse of office, Andrei Tenishev said. For example, the Mayor of Vladivostok was sentenced to 15 years in prison for an anti-competitive agreement, and an ex-minister of the Perm Territory, to 8 years. The speaker noted that the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) is also investigating digital cartels. “All tenders have been transferred onto digital platforms, where all actions can be traced, so FAS has a lot to do,” the expert said.
FAS Russia is currently investigating a number of illegal collusion cases, where companies use digital tools to coordinate their activities in commodity markets. At the end of his presentation, the speaker emphasized that Russia needs more time to reduce collusion in public procurement as more criminal cases are prosecuted.