The powers of MIA (Ministry of the Interior) – during search and investigation operations
The unit in charge of investigative operations related to tax and economic crimes is the General Directorate of Economic Security and Countering Corruption (GDESCC). This unit was made up of four, formerly separate, departments which were combined into one general directorate during the recent reforms in the Ministry of the Interior which created the new Russian Federal Police Force.
The powers of GDESCC operatives are stipulated in and regulated by Federal Statute #3-FZ of 7.02.2011 "On Police", and the Federal Statute on "Investigative and search activities". The rules of conduct regarding investigative activities in cases of criminal violations are stipulated in the Criminal Case Code, statute #174-FZ, of 18.12.2001.
With the adoption of the Federal Law of 7.02.2011 ("On Police") the Ministry of the Interior regained a considerable chunk of powers which were hitherto curbed by various legislation. Furthermore, the police gained a number of powers which they did not have prior to the adoption of the new statutes. In short the new legislation authorizes them full access to any and all company information.
Article 13 of the new law ("On Police") stipulates the operatives’ rights to unrestricted access in points 1.4, 1.5, 1.10, 1.28
The scenario of GDESCC agents busting down the door unannounced, and proceeding to confiscate documentation and computers is, alas, no science fiction.
It is important to remember that operative agents of the GDESCC are officers of the law, i.e. police officers. What are their powers?
We should point out that the law defines two major types of investigative search activities (ISA) – overt and covert.
Overt activities require that agents identify themselves to the person or legal entity representative and declare their intentions and demands. Covert activities (as their name suggests) are undertaken in secret - for example under the disguise of office building maintenance workers etc.
On-premise investigative searches are considered overt activities and must be conducted only with the consent of the person/legal entity representative against whom they are conducted.
Why do we think so? Current legislation does NOT stipulate any conditions which oblige the person/legal entity to consent to an ISA involuntarily, without a proper warrant pertaining to criminal activities. This opinion is share by leading Russian legal experts in academia, government and law enforcement (including former Deputy Head of the MIA, Lt. General I.N. Zubov, JD)
If field operatives of the GDESCC refuse to acknowledge a person’s refusal to cooperate such action will be considered by the courts.
Orders for on-premise investigative searches and seizures:
On-premise investigative searches and seizures may be conducted only with a signed order. This order must be signed by the chief (or his/her deputy) of the local or regional police department. Such orders are issued after a report has been filed by an operative about the suspicions of possible criminal activities or the preparation of such.
A report must contain:
- specific evidence suggesting criminal activity or possible such
- data suggesting developments which may be considered to constitute a danger to the economic safety of the Russian Federation
- measures taken in order to verify all information confirming the accuracy of all evidence prior to deciding to authorize an operation
- date, time, place and planned duration of the operation
The order is registered in a special journal and is given a unique ID number!
The order must contain:
- ID number
- reasons for the investigative search activity (ISA)
- name of the legal entity targeted
- full names and ranks of the operatives involved
- list of actions which the operatives are authorized to perform in the specific case
It is important to note that an overt ISA can be conducted only if the CEO is present, or another person who holds power of attorney to represent him/her.