Summary: It Is “Technically Impossible” to Provide Access to the Full Database
|Request sent to||Federal Tax Service (Click here)|
|Outcome of request||Information Refused|
|Time taken to respond||40 working days (Deadline is 30 calendar days)|
|Reason for refusal||Another law overrides FOI law.
Technically impossible to fulfill.
The initial request was sent in Russian to the Federal Tax Service on 5 August 2013 by our partner Alec Luhn, a Russian journalist. Legally, Russia is bound to answer access to information requests within 30 working days. However, since no response was received before the deadline, Access Info had to re-send the request on 18 September 2013.
On 30 September 2013, the Russian Tax Service replied explaining that the information contained in the Register was covered by a specific federal law on the registration of legal entities, which contained no provisions on bulk access to the company register, and that for this reason, it was not possible to fulfil our request.
In response, we asked the Federal Tax Service what the appeals mechanism was for challenging this decision. We were informed that we should send an email to the Tax office but that it would not be considered a formal appeal because the request was never officially denied, it was just a “technically impossible” to fulfil.
After telephoning both the Federal Tax Service and the Ministry of Finance, Access Info Europe presented an administrative appeal to the Ministry, which is ultimately responsible for the Russian company register. The appeal was sent on 18 November 2013, but no response was ever received from the Russian authorities to this appeal.
Why is open access to company registers so important?
Alec Luhn, freelance journalist, Russia: “The follow-the-money technique is one of the most important for investigative journalists, and in Russia that almost surely leads to a complicated web of holding companies or shell companies. Being able to at least find out who nominally owns a company is a valuable piece of knowledge when piecing together such a puzzle at the beginning of an investigation, especially since not every journalist has insider information, and since the bureaucracy around official requests for comment are such that any information you receive is usually not insightful and very delayed.”
Accessing the Russian Company Register
|Information available (for free)||
|Provision for public access||You can search through the company register by visiting the following website: http://egrul.nalog.ru.
To search you must know one of the various registration numbers or the name, address, or date of registration of the legal entity.
It is not possible to do a blank search.
|Cost per record||According to regulations, for fees starting at 50,000 rubles (757.86 euros), you can get access to a single entry. For 5,000 rubles (75.83 euros), you can get an update of the information in that entry.|
|Cost for whole database||For fees starting at 150,000 rubles (2,275 euros), you can get an annual subscription to the whole database, but you cannot download the entire thing.|