MOSCOW, March 16 (RAPSI) - The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, adopted in both the second and third reading on Tuesday a government bill that would introduce criminal liability for organizing large Ponzi schemes, RIA Novosti reported.

In early March, authorities approved fines of up to 1 million rubles ($14,200) for organizing and advertising Ponzi schemes.

The new legislation stipulates criminal liability for Ponzi scheme organizers for obtaining more than 1.5 million rubles ($21,300) in assets belonging to individuals and companies.

Such crimes would be punished with fines of up to 1.5 million rubles, up to 5 years of community service or up to 6 years in prison.

Currently, around 200 criminal cases on financial pyramids which caused damage to individuals and companies for a total amount of more than 20 billion rubles ($283.5 million) are under investigation, according to Deputy Chief of the Interior ministry’s investigation department, Oleg Danhsin.