MOSCOW, April 6 (RAPSI) — The State Duma has approved in the first reading a government bill on toughening the criminal liability of bankruptcy commissioners for their unlawful actions related to the process of bankruptcy, according to the official website of the lower house of the Russian parliament.

The draft document seeks to strengthen the responsibility of the said officers, as well as chairpersons of liquidation commissions (liquidators) for such illegal actions in the framework of bankruptcy procedures because of the fairly broad powers these persons have in bankruptcy cases, the explanatory note to the bill reads.

It is proposed that bankruptcy commissioners or chairpersons of liquidation commissions are to be punished with fines ranging from 500,000 to 2 million rubles ($6,500 to $26,000 at the current exchange rate), or forced labor for up to four years with or without deprivation of the right to engage in certain activities for up to three years, or imprisonment for a term of up to four years with a fine of up to 500,000 rubles and with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions for up to three years or without this measure.

According to the bill, the same sanctions are to be provided for persons who have committed crimes using their official positions. At the same time, for crimes committed by a group of persons entering into a criminal conspiracy or by an organized group, the bill envisages the introduction of fines from 1 to 2 million rubles ($13,000 to $26,000) or in the amount of the wages or other income of the convicted person generated in a period from one to three years, or imprisonment for a term of up to five years with or without a fine of up to 1 million rubles or in the amount of the convict's wages or other income generated for a period of up to one year, or without this measure.

The document also proposes to exclude from the respective provisions of the Russian Criminal Code the indication of crime committers (heads or founders (participants) of legal entities or citizens, including individual entrepreneurs) in order to resolve the problem of bringing the beneficiaries of criminal businesses to criminal liability.

The authors of the initiative note that an increased efficiency of identifying the ultimate beneficiaries is possible only on condition that nominal managers and front-persons will provide active assistance to the bodies engaged in preliminary investigations.

The possibility of such cooperation can be based on providing the person who contributed to the disclosure and investigation of crimes clear legal guarantees against further criminal prosecution. In this regard, the bill proposes to supplement the respective articles of the Criminal Code with a note, according to which a person who first committed a crime under the said provisions is to be exempted from criminal liability if such a person actively contribute in the disclosure and (or) investigation of the crime, report the persons who benefited from the illegal or dishonest behavior of debtors, disclose information about the property (income) of such persons on the condition that the disclosed funds are sufficient to compensate in full for the damage caused by the respective crime, and if the actions of the said person do not form component elements of crime, the explanatory note reads.