In The Spotlight
As you would expect, the Czech Labour Code permits an employer unilaterally to dismiss an employee who breaches his or her work duties. But when? The Czech Supreme Court has recently ruled that even a minor breach can suffice.
The Hungarian Government submitted a bill on environmental protection product charges to the Hungarian Parliament in September 2017. The bill implements the changes of Directive 2012/19/EU on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, which targets to make easier the payment of the charge and to reduce the administrative burden of the undertakings.
The US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) had announced a pilot program1 (“Pilot Program”) on April 5, 2016, which created new mitigation opportunities for companies that (i) voluntarily self-disclosed, (ii) cooperated fully, and (iii) took timely and appropriate remedial actions in FCPA matters that fell within the Fraud Section’s mandate.
The Law on Protection of Consumers No. 6502 (the “Law”) is published in the Official Gazette on November 28, 2013 and entered into force on May 28, 2014. Article 1 of the Law specifies the purpose of the Law as “to take measures that protect the health, safety and the economic interests of the consumer … in order to inform and educate the consumers in accordance with public interest”. Regulation and supervision of advertisements are considered as necessary tools to protect consumers. Therefore the Law includes detailed provisions on advertisements, which are supported by the secondary legislation, i.e. the Regulation on Commercial Advertisement and Unfair Commercial Practices (the “Regulation”).
In 2016, Russian law enforcement authorities had some success in investigating and combatting bribery. For the first time in several years, the majority of cases involved bribe-taking, rather than bribe-giving, and involved significant bribe amounts. The number of cases against bribe-takers increased by 19.7% from 2015, while the number of cases against bribe-givers increased by only 4.4%. This trend continued in the first half of 2017; the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and law enforcement authorities registered 3,362 cases of bribery, of which 2015 cases concerned bribe-taking and 1,347 cases concerned bribe-giving.
Money laundering and corruption are closely related; therefore, they should be tackled systemically. Lithuania’s setting in these areas is rather ambiguous – it is ranked among the top performers when it comes to an anti-money laundering regime and its effectiveness, but it performs worse than EU average when it comes to the perception of corruption (Lithuania was ranked 38th in the Global Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International in 2016).
Combatting corruption has been declared a primary goal in Ukraine following the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. Slowly, but steadily, Ukraine’s reputation as a country with a serious corruption problem is improving.
Foreign investors willing to invest in Turkey and Turkish companies listed on foreign stock exchanges or which have a business relationship with foreign companies are under the obligation to comply with high-level international compliance requirements. As a result, these investors and Turkish companies are required to implement compliance programs which assist them and their employees to conduct transactions and actions in conformity with ethical principles, legislation, and regulatory provisions.
Latvia is gradually improving its score in the corruption perception index. According to the international anti-corruption organization Transparency International, Latvia took 44th place in the corruption perception index in 2016, with 57 out of 100 points – after scoring 55 in both 2015 and 2014 (it scored 53 points in 2013 and 49 in 2012). This represents Latvia’s best score so far, and it appears to be a sign that tolerance of corruption in our country is continuing to decrease. By contrast, Lithuania fell from 34th place in 2015 to 38th place in 2016 (with 59 points in 2016, compared to 61 in 2015), and Estonia moved up to 22nd in 2016 from 23rd the year before, though it had the same 70-point score both years.
According to TRACE Matrix 2016 results, Estonia is the third least corruption prone country in the world, minimizing the risk of liability under anti-corruption regulations. To date, there is no case law under FCPA rules concerning Estonia. Nevertheless, the legal framework set by the FCPA gives rise to theoretical problems of definition which may hinder its enforcement.
Since Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007, the European Commission has set up a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) in order to monitor, among other strategic points, the progress of Romania’s fight against corruption.
Each year hundreds of billions of dollars are lost by companies due to cybercrimes committed by criminals. These attacks vary from sophisticated hacking to primitive fraud attempts.
Recent developments in the ongoing investigation into money transactions coming from Iran through one of the largest Slovenian banks have raised awareness about anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism rules in Slovenia.
Despite recommendations by international organizations, Czech legislation on whistleblowers is fragmentary and does not offer a complex legal regulation of the phenomenon, or even a definition of the term. The current protection of whistleblowers – i.e., employees or former employees of an organization who inform competent institutions of illegal or unethical practices in that organization – is only dealt with in the Czech Act on Banks, Act on Savings and Credit Co-operatives, Capital Market Undertakings Act, and Civil Service Act (or, more precisely, in the Government Decree implementing the Civil Service Act). Some vague protection of whistleblowers is also provided by the general provisions of the Labor Code and other regulations, which, however, do not specifically address the protection of whistleblowers as such. Currently, two acts are being discussed in the Czech Parliament aimed at providing higher labor-law protection of whistleblowers in both the private and public sectors.
The Polish Government has recently presented a draft Program on Fighting Corruption for 2018 through 2019. This is another step in the ongoing effort to introduce legal mechanisms aimed at reducing corruption in Poland. The process of systematically fighting corruption started several years ago, and it has allowed Poland to move from 43rd place in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index in 2010 up to 29th place in 2017. The aim of the contemplated regulations is to push Poland further up the ranking and continue its transition to a true western-style economy.
The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was introduced to fight corruption on an international level. Corporations of all nationalities which are established under US law or traded on a US stock market are embraced by this act, as are all individuals who commit relevant acts on the territory of the US.
An unfavorable global financial crunch has affected the Ukrainian banking system. The continued growth of the share of distressed loans in portfolios of Ukrainian banks in recent years ultimately resulted in a number of sonorous bank defaults and, eventually, in the unprecedented nationalization of the largest Ukrainian national bank, Privatbank. According to the National Bank of Ukraine, in August 2017 over 60% of loans in the Ukrainian banking system were non-performing. This resulted in a permanent crisis in liquidity for Ukrainian businesses and a large number of significantly overdue loans. In response to this situation, in 2016 a unique dispute settlement mechanism for creditors and debtors was implemented to provide for financial restructuring of bad assets.
Ukraine has made a great leap forward in the development of transfer pricing rules since the concept of “controlled transactions” was first introduced in the Tax Code in 2013. These transfer pricing rules have been amended in recent years and Ukrainian taxpayers are likely to face many new issues on the subject in 2017.
The growth of agribusiness production in recent years requires a proportional increase in port facilities and transportation infrastructure. The necessary investments are impeded, however, by an outdated legislative framework.
These days the Ukrainian media is full of news about the detention of officials and business owners, revisions of enterprises allegedly connected with corrupt officials, frozen foreign accounts, and the expected return of assets in the near future. The law enforcement system keeps an eye on ex-representatives of power and business, skillfully bringing them to criminal prosecution, and so-called “resonant” cases with a political flavor appear almost daily in the media.
Ukraine confidently declared its intention to bring its legislation into line with EU standards by signing the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement in 2014, which obliges Ukraine to implement a number of EU Directives, including those regulating various aspects of corporate governance.
In 2016-2017 Ukrainian authorities introduced many important legislative changes in the energy sector in line with the country’s commitment to implementing the Third Energy Package as a member of the Energy Community and as a party to the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
The main event of 2017 in Ukrainian dispute resolution (and maybe for all legal practices) is certainly the formation of a new Supreme Court.
The growing interdependence of world economies, driven by the reduction and removal of trade barriers, cheaper transport and communication costs, and increased use of the Internet (facilitating easier access to foreign markets), as well as by the growth of multinational corporations, has resulted in unprecedented cross-border trade and capital flows. At the same time, it has also opened up new opportunities for multinationals to reduce their profit in high-taxed jurisdictions by exploiting gaps and mismatches in domestic and international tax rules to artificially shift it to low-taxed countries (or tax havens).
After a period of political and economic instability which put M&A transactions in Ukraine into a dormant mode, the country is starting to show signs of revival. As the economy recovers and new legislation aimed at strengthening the rule of law and simplifying doing business is adopted, investors are again looking towards Ukraine with interest.