The Russian Parliament’s Lower Chamber has clarified the definition of white-collar crimes

The State Duma has adopted a federal law to outline in greater detail the definition of white-collar crimes in some of its provisions[1].
The adopted law introduces the following amendments and supplements into article 81.1(1) (the procedure for treating items and documents as material evidence in white-collar crimes) and article 164(4) (general rules for carrying our investigations) of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code:

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If the crimes committed were white-collar crimes
If the crimes were committed by an individual entrepreneur in connection with him/her carrying out entrepreneurial activities and/or managing property that belongs to him/her and is used for the purposes of entrepreneurial activities.

Or if the crimes were committed by a member of the management board of a business corporation in connection with him/her exercising his/her powers involving the management of the corporation or in connection with the business corporation carrying out entrepreneurial or other economic activity.

comment.jpgThe Law is aimed at eliminating the legal uncertainty which emerged in connection with Federal Law No. 315-FZ “On amending articles 108 and 109 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code” dated 2 August 2019.

This Federal law has elaborated and expanded that definition of a white-collar crime used in article 108(1) (detention) of the Criminal Procedure Code. While virtually the same definition has continued to be used in articles 81.1 and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code in accordance with the previous terminology, this has opened the door for a divergent interpretation of the law and various abuses during an investigation.


The positive effect of the adopted law is that the definition of white-collar crimes has been unified throughout criminal procedure legislation, which will help entrepreneurs to avoid abuse on the part of investigative authorities.

Yet, the definition used by the legislature still lacks sufficient elaboration and allows for different interpretations. In practice, investigative authorities, who are occasionally supported by courts, often refuse entrepreneurs recognition of their actions as white-collar crimes and thereby deprive them of additional guarantees for which criminal procedure legislation provides[2]. By so doing they argue that purportedly “the activity of persons charged with criminal liability did not meet the signs set out in article 2(1) of the Russian Civil Code, as such activity pursued the objective of enriching those who committed the crime and was not aimed at generating profit on a regular basis from the corporation’s lawful activities”.

Help from your adviser

Taking into account the changes in legislation and ensuring that the guarantees stipulated for entrepreneurs are complied with, Pepeliaev Group’s attorneys will assess the criminal law risks and safeguard the rights of companies’ CEOs and employees at all stages of criminal prosecution, starting from police requests for information and summonses to give statements, investigative measures and pre-investigative examination, all the way to the trial of a case in court.

[1] The Federal Law “On amending articles 811 and 164 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code” adopted by the State Duma on 9 March 2021, draft law No. 893615-7 (the “Law”).
[2] A prohibition on detention before the court issues its sentence as established in article 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code regulating the procedure for collecting, treating as material evidence and keeping documents, property and electronic storage devices (articles 81, 81.1, 82, 164, and 164.1 of the Criminal Procedure Code), and some others.

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