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Abuse of power. Article 201 of the criminal code

Abuse of Power. Article 201 of the Criminal Code


  • The director of your company deliberately entered into a bad deal?
  • You are accused that you have caused damage to your very own company?
  • The head of the company is shifting customers, employees and the financial flows over to his own business?



We will get it sorted out for you. Call us: +7 (495) 781-63-43 Email us: ukt@ukt.ru The situation assessment is free of charge.

Abuse of power. Who is guilty?

Criminal liability for the abuse of power can only occur for the person performing managerial functions in an organization that is not a state body, local authority, government or municipal authority.

Such persons may include a one-man executive body (General Director, Director, President), a member of the Board of Directors, member of the administration or other collegial executive body, as well as an individual who performs managerial or administrative functions in such companies (directors of divisions, branches, a commercial director, a technical director, deputy directors, etc.).

What does the law say about the abuse of power?

The use by the person referred to in the previous paragraph, of his/her powers against the interests (certainly legitimate interests) of the organization in order to obtain benefits for himself/herself or other people or inflict damage to other people, if those actions or inactions led to substantial harm to the rights and legitimate interests of individuals, companies, society and the state shall be punishable with the following:

  • From a fine to deprivation of liberty for a maximum period of 4 years;
  • If the abuse has caused grave consequences, the maximum term of imprisonment may be ten years.

The main target of the crime is the normal activity of commercial or other companies, and their legitimate interests.

The rights and legitimate interests of citizens, companies, society and the State are considered as an additional target of this crime.

The most common examples of the abuse of power.

1. One of the typical examples of the abuse of power is when the CEO of the society creates a company (often with a similar name) with his/her involvement, to which he/she diverts a part of or all of the orders and customers from the company where he/she was or continues to be the CEO. In this case, the unconscientious CEO often does not stop there: office and commercial properties rent contracts are terminated and the new ones are concluded with the company under his/her control, the employees are transferred to work in the new company. The old company actually ceases operations or, at best, loses part of its business.

In this case, both the company itself, which has become the subject of criminal actions, and members of the company, too, may qualify as a victim. That being said, under the current court practice, the applicant in such cases may be the new CEO, board member or member of society.

2. Another example might be the conclusion by the General Director of a transaction on behalf of the company on conditions unfavorable a priori, at low or excessive prices, often without the consent of the company members, with counterparties that are in one way or another under the control of the perpetrator, as a result of which the company gets damaged and third persons or the general director himself/herself get profits (see the Cassational Ruling of the Rostov Regional Court for the case No22-9035 dated 28.10.2010, the Cassational Ruling of the Rostov Regional Court for the case No22-6998 dated 19.09.2012).

3. The third characteristic example of the abuse of power is when the CEO or head of division signs on behalf of the company an acceptance certificate with the counterparty, thereby accepting the works and creating the basis for payment to the contractor. In this case, the offender knows that the works have not been performed or have been performed improperly and should not be accepted (see the Cassational Ruling for the case No 4994 by the Rostov Regional Court).

Delimitation between the abuse of power and embezzlement.

Abuse of power (Article 201 of the RF Criminal Code) should be distinguished from embezzlement: Swindling (Article 159 of the RF Criminal Code), Swindling in the sphere of entrepreneurial activities (Article 159.4 of the RF Criminal Code), embezzlement or squandering (Article 160 of the RF Criminal Code).

Both in case of the abuse of power and embezzlement, a company may lose its property, in connection with which, in practice, there often appear problems of classification and differentiation of these crime components.

  • The main element that distinguishes the abuse of power from various types of embezzlement is the intent. In the case of abuse of power the intent aims to use the powers against the interests of the company for the person’s own benefit or the benefit of other people. In case of embezzlement the intent is aimed at the theft of property and getting it at the person’s disposal or handing it over at the disposal of other people. An example of court practice is the Supervisory Ruling of the Russian Armed Forces dated 06.03.2002 for case No 5-D01-365.
  • Another element that distinguishes the abuse of power from embezzlement with the use of official position is the nature of property seizure: in case of the abuse of power the property is either not withdrawn or withdrawn, but temporarily and/or for a certain fee. (Resolution of the Plenum of the RF Armed Forces No19 dated 16.10.2009).

Abuse of power. What can be done?

The protection of your rights and interests depends on your criminal procedural status: the victim or the accused.


  • Change of the CEO or suspension from duty of other persons suspected of committing a crime;
  • Launching an internal investigation and auditing;
  • Collection of evidence;
  • Preparation and submission of an application to initiate a criminal case;
  • Representation of interests of the victim in the pre-investigation probe, the preliminary investigation and in the court;
  • Filing a civil action within the criminal process.


  • Studying materials and evidence;
  • Gathering evidence, attorney interviewing of witnesses, submission of attorney queries;
  • Working out a legal position and a line of defense;
  • Protection at the stage of pre-investigation probe and the preliminary investigation (preparation for interviews and questioning sessions and participation in interviews, questioning sessions and other investigative actions, filing of petitions and complaints);
  • Defense in the court.