MOSCOW, March 23 (RAPSI) — A bill criminalizing unlawful activities aimed to recover overdue debts of individuals has been introduced to the State Duma, according to the official website of the lower house of Russia’s parliament.

The bill seeks to supplement the Russian Criminal Code with a new article introducing criminal liability for such unlawful activities. It is proposed that more serious sentences are to be imposed for actions aimed at recovery of overdue debts of individuals in cases where such actions involve violence or threats to use thereof, destruction or damage to property and threats of such actions, or the dissemination of deliberately false information discrediting the honor and dignity of debtors, the explanatory note to the document reads.

Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin submitted the bill for a review by the relevant State Duma Committee, that is, the Committee on State Building and Legislation.

Persons involved in debt collection are to be held criminally liable in cases where they threaten a person, attempt to damage individuals’ property or threaten to do so, as well as in cases debt collectors disseminate information about the debtor that is knowingly false or defamatory; the respective punishment is to make a fine in the amount of up to 500,000 rubles (about $6,500 at the current exchange rate) and imprisonment for up to 5 years, Volodin informed.

According to the State Duma Chairman, the maximum punishment under the new article of the Criminal Code is to be up to 12 years in prison, if the aforesaid actions were carried out by an organized group.