Laws related to whistle-blowing – There is no specific legislation on whistle-blowing in Russia. The closest the country has are its laws for anti- corruption, including the protection of victims, witnesses and other participants of judicial proceedings on criminal cases; personal data processing and security; and protections for journalists, along with other labor law protections.
General whistle-blowing mechanisms for the private sector can be found within the Anti-Corruption Law, which sets forth the following recommended list of measures:
- Appointment of divisions and officials responsible for the prevention of corruption and other offenses
- Cooperation with law enforcement
- Development and implementation of standards and procedures aimed at ensuring company diligence
- Adoption of a code of ethics and
- employee conduct
- Prevention and resolution of conflicts of
- Prevention of unverified or unofficial accounts and the use of forged documents
However, the law does not include certain requirements regarding the content of these measures (e.g., the standards and procedures aimed at ensuring company diligence, a code of ethics and employee conduct) to be implemented in companies.
Whistle-blowers and protections
There is virtually no legal definition of a whistle-blower, nor are there defined protections for whistle-blowers, except for one specific provision in the Anti- Corruption Law, which states that civil servants or state officials who report on corruption violations will enjoy state protection. The protection is afforded in accordance with the general rules of granting protection to participants in criminal cases.
Corporate whistle-blowers are barely protected under the law. Amendments are expected to the Anti-Corruption Law, which introduce measures aimed at the protection of any individuals who report on corruption offenses to their employer’s representative, the prosecutor’s office or the police. However, such amendments have not yet been adopted in the form of a law.
There are no special requirements for reporting inappropriate behavior or wrongdoing. However, if such alerts include information on corruption (e.g., bribery) and are intended to be submitted to state authorities, the following issues should be taken into account.
Under Russian law, bribery (a form of corruption) is a crime. A crime-incident report should be filed to the respective state authorities, verbally or in writing. A written crime-incident report must be signed by the witness.
A verbal crime-incident report also should be signed by the witness. The protocol for this includes providing information about the identity of the witness. In turn, an anonymous crime incident report may not be considered as an excuse for initiating a criminal case.
The offender’s voluntary disclosure of an offense to the authorities qualifies as an extenuating circumstance. For example, in the case of an administrative liability, the amount of the fine imposed for violation may be reduced. In the case of criminal liability, the bribe-giver may be released from criminal liability if he or she:
- Аctively enabled the discovery or
- investigation of the crime
- Was blackmailed by the bribe-taker
- Voluntarily informed the authorities of the bribe-taking
Country-by-country and EU whistle-blowing rules need to be taken into account in setting the best practices and policies in this growing area of risk, including what an employer must do when faced with a whistle-blower claim, such as whether an investigation is required, protections of the employee who complained of company practices and litigation issues.
Best practice requires companies to take action in advance by creating a hotline and training its employees in ethical behavior.