The introduction of fines on sales and criminal liability for deliberately thwarting competition as well as a marked increase in antimonopoly enquiries are making companies pay closer attention to making sure they comply with antimonopoly regulations. Antimonopoly compliance is a system of corporate prevention of violations of antimonopoly regulations aimed at reducing the risk of the company becoming the target of executive abuses and antimonopoly sanctions. Antimonopoly compliance is being introduced as a new tool for preventing and reducing antimonopoly risks for companies. Discussions about the legal status of antimonopoly compliance in the Russian law have been underway between corporate legal experts, practicing lawyers and representatives of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Services (FAS) for many years, and some questions still remain unanswered.
One topic that has been discussed a lot is whether or not antimonopoly compliance should be legislated in the Russian Law, which would call for amendments to be introduced in Federal Law No 135-FZ dated July 26, 2006 “On the Protection of Competition”, and for appropriate methodological recommendations to be developed. Another issue is whether legislation should be passed that would allow for sanctions to be reduced if a company has an effective antimonoply compliance system.
The FAS has not yet come out either for or against this issue: it is promising to make its final position known by the end of 2016. At the same time, speaking at a conference devoted to antimonopoly regulation in Russia in September 2015, the Head of the FAS spoke about introducing antimonopoly compliance legislation and benefits for companies that dutifully implement it (in the fifth antimonopoly package) as a key issue on the list of laws and regulations this service plans to be pushing for in the next few years. Development and introduction of laws and regulations incentivizing businesses, associations, unions and participants in commodity markets to introduce a system of antimonopoly compliance are also contained in the strategy for the development of competition and antimonopoly regulation in Russia in 2013-2024 approved by the FAS in 2013.
Another benefit of passing laws promoting antimonopoly compliance is that it would be good for both the FAS and for companies as not only would it reduce the number of violations but also cut the amount of work that antimonopoly authorities have to do tracking down violations, thus reducing the number of antimonopoly enquiries. In other countries, antimonopoly authorities have been quite successful at offering companies explanations about what needs to be taken into account in corporate antimonopoly compliance programs as well as at reducing punishment (for example by means of imposing lower fines) for antimonopoly violations for companies that have and adhere to antimonopoly compliance procedures.
For more on why antimonopoly compliance cannot change the situation, what is hindering the development of this institution and what options Russia has today to promote its development, read the Analytical Center’s report Antimonopoly Compliance: Current Practices and Development Prospects.