Since 2009 Russian law has contained express provisions on shareholders' agreements. Further provisions of the Civil Code came into effect in 2014. The law sets out what shareholders' agreements can and cannot require shareholders to do and whether they can be enforceable against third parties, as well as whether they must be publicly disclosed or registered.
There are a number of restrictions on share transfers in Russia which companies should bear in mind. In addition, companies should be aware of the laws regarding whether minority shareholders can alter or restrict changes to share capital structures, when shareholders must notify changes to their shareholding to a regulatory authority and whether companies can buy back their shares. A number of restrictions also exist with regard to exiting a company.
The president recently signed Federal Law 259-FZ of 2 August 2019 on Raising Investments via Investment Platforms and on Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation. The law, which is set to take effect from 1 January 2020, reflects the growing trend in Russia of increased regulation of digital economy issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to combat it will have a significant impact on both the global and Russian economies. The government has taken a number of measures to stop the spread of the virus, such as suspending the activities of most Russian businesses, including service providers, from 27 March until 30 April 2020. As such, the government has also had to adopt a comprehensive support programme for affected businesses.
At the end of 2019, the Federal Tax Service issued clarifications on calculating the share of Russian immovable property in the indirect sale of such property for corporate income tax purposes. The clarifications are especially relevant as the Russian tax authorities' powers have grown following the signing and ratification of a number of international agreements on the exchange of tax information in recent years.
Over the past year, Parliament has adopted several laws amending the Tax Code regarding the taxation of legal entities. This article examines the most significant tax innovations expected in the corporate sector in 2020 which concern corporate income tax, transport and land taxes and changes in tax administration rules.
Federal Law 79-FZ on the Ratification of the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty-Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting recently entered into force. Once the ratification procedure has been completed, the convention will enter into force in Russia, introducing changes to the taxation procedure for transactions with counterparties from a large number of countries that have concluded double tax avoidance agreements with Russia.
The Federal Tax Service recently approved a form of inquiry which it will use to request information from legal entities regarding their beneficial owners in order to, among other things, identify tax evasion schemes. For the purposes of the law, 'legal entities' means not only Russian legal entities, but also foreign legal entities, including those that perform economic operations in Russia and interact with Russian clients.
In May 2019 an interstate agreement was concluded within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, under which it was agreed to introduce a system to enable certain categories of imported goods to be traced. Now, Russia has launched an experimental version of such system, which will remain in place until 31 December 2019. Among other things, the system is expected to lead to a reduction in the level of record falsification in the market and better control the payment of taxes.
The Duma provides certain incentives to encourage businesses to operate in Russia. For example, it recently passed a law which permits Russian exporters and Russian subsidiaries of foreign companies that provide services to foreign clients and other companies within such client's groups to deduct the full amount of value added tax for these services. The new law, which was drafted in response to the digital economy, will increase competition in the outbound services market.
Although the term 'Big Data' is now common, no Russian legal provision deals expressly with the processing of such data. Various legislative initiatives have attempted to introduce a specific legal framework in this regard, including a recent draft law which aims to create a specific legal regime for Big Data processing. Although the draft law received negative feedback from the government, it is useful to consider the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media's approach when shaping it.
Keywords play an important role in e-marketing. After typing a specific product name, company name or brand in a search engine, potential customers and users may view specific offers and data, including ads. Further, the list of offers may represent certain keywords selected by an advertiser. Unsurprisingly, the selection and reproduction of designations as keywords can trigger various trademark use concerns that inevitably lead to enforcement issues.
Advertisers are increasingly using online messenger systems to promote businesses, as well as their goods and services. In this context, the Federal Anti-monopoly Service recently issued an official letter clarifying, among other things, the application of the Federal Law on Advertising to messenger systems such as Viber and WhatsApp. The letter is notable as it reveals the regulator's approach to advertising campaigns disseminated via various instant messaging services.
The president recently signed the Digital Rights Law, which will take effect on 1 October 2019. The law has introduced a number of new legal concepts into Russian legislation, including digital rights, e-transactions, smart contracts and Big Data. Companies doing business on the digital level in Russia should familiarise themselves with the background and key provisions of the law to ensure that they are ready to operate in the new legislative environment.
Roscomnadzor (the Russian data protection authority) recently filed a landmark action against illegal personal data processing by Google Analytics and Yandex Metriсa. If the authority succeeds in the appeal court, Russian websites will have to welcome users with EU General Data Protection Regulation-style cookie banners and privacy policies. Prior to this case, the Russian internet community had not considered statistical information concerning web traffic and user actions to constitute personal data.