Pyramid schemes to become a punishable offence in Russia
Russia's Finance Ministry has created an amendment to the Federal Criminal Code, adding an article entitled "The organisation of pyramid schemes," said Deputy Minister Alexei Savatyugin at the "Banks of Russia - XXI century" Banking Forum.
"We developed a draft of amendments to the Criminal Code. And this could be interesting. We are adding to the Criminal Code Article 159 a note entitled "the organisation of pyramid schemes," Interfax cites Savatyugin as saying.
In the article, the Ministry outlines what a financial pyramid is and introduces specific crimes, including the organisation a pyramid scheme through the use of an official position or through a group of individuals.
"In general, [the punishment will be ]up to 10 years [in prison] and a fine of up to 1 million rubles," said Savatyugin.
The need for such amendments came sharply into question once again in January 2011, when the founder of the MMM Pyramid scheme, Sergey Mavrodi, announced the opening of a new "pyramid" called MMM-2011.
Sergei Mavrodi registered his first MMM pyramid scheme in 1989, and in 1997 it was declared bankrupt. Afterwards a warrant was issued for Mavrodi's arrest, but he was taken into custody only in 2003. Three charges were brought against him: forgery, mass fraud, and tax evasion.
In 2003 Mavrodi was sentenced to 13 months in prison for owning a fake passport. In 2004, the Investigative Committee closed the criminal case on tax evasion due to the statute of limitations for this category of crime.
In April 2007, the court sentenced Mavrodi to 4 and a half years in prison for fraud. But in May, he was released because he had already served almost the entire period his sentence while the court and lawyers familiarised themselves with the documents of the case.
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