Telecom operators began en masse to appeal Roskomnadzor fines for missing fraudulent calls, which can reach 1 million rubles. The regulator’s claims affect even large market participants who have already joined the Roskomnadzor Antifraud system. Operators note that some of their partners are not yet connected to the system, and the system itself is working with errors. But challenging fines is very difficult, experts say. Market participants hope that the explanations that the Ministry of Digital Development has given to prosecutors and courts will reduce the number of cases.
Kommersant got acquainted with data from law firms on the dynamics of litigation involving telecom operators regarding fines for passing fraudulent traffic. We are talking about appealing charges under Art. 13.2.1. Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation.
According to Skif Consulting, there were four similar cases in the proceedings of the Tagansky District Court of Moscow in 2022, and in less than 2023 there were already seventy-seven of them. In the Savelovsky District Court, the number of cases increased from zero to fifty. In general, in 2023, more than 212 such cases were considered in Moscow courts, while in the past there were no more than 10, says Dmitry Demidenko, managing partner of Skif Consulting.
Despite the fact that the corresponding article of the Code of Administrative Offenses was introduced at the end of 2021, during 2022 it remained “practically inoperative,” says Mr. Demidenko: Roskomnadzor made fewer decisions on it, and operators almost did not challenge them. In 2023, “the number of litigations has increased by several orders of magnitude,” he says.
Art. 13.2.1. The Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation presupposes administrative liability for failure to fulfill the obligation to terminate the provision of communication services and (or) traffic transmission services; the fine for legal entities ranges from 600 thousand rubles. up to 1 million rubles The first decision on it was made last summer in relation to the French Orange Business Services (Orange Business Services LLC).
A citizen who has been attacked by scammers contacts the police, who begin checking the operator, explains Igor Serkin, head of the Cliff litigation practice. If the police reveal violations on the part of the operator, they report this to Roskomnadzor. The department, in turn, submits an application to the magistrate’s court, which, according to the law, decides on a fine. “The cases being considered in district courts concern telecom operators’ appeals against decisions of magistrates: in particular, they are appealing for connection to the Antifraud state system and the fact that the violation did not occur on their side,” explains Igor Serkin. To prevent fraud in Russia, the Antifraud telephone call verification platform of Roskomnadzor was launched in January.
One of the last similar cases discovered by Kommersant was considered by the Savelovsky District Court in October in relation to VimpelCom (Beeline brand). The operator is challenging the decision of the magistrate of judicial district No. 347 of the Savyolovsky district of Moscow dated July 12, who found him guilty of passing fraudulent traffic and imposed a fine of 600 thousand rubles. The court, among other things, relied on the results of an audit by the Penza prosecutor’s office, which revealed that the operator, by missing a call from the Czech Republic that came with a Russian city number on the network of another operator, did not fulfill the obligation to terminate it. The district court upheld the decision, rejecting the operator’s complaint. VimpelCom and Roskomnadzor declined to comment.
As a rule, calls, including from substitute numbers, go through the networks of local operators, which act as partners of the Big Four, explains an interlocutor in the telecom market. Small operators may not be connected to Antifraud, and the risks of fines fall on large companies, he clarifies. Because of this, large operators began to disconnect small colleagues from their traffic exchange points in the spring (see “Kommersant” on March 6).
“Since the article of the Code of Administrative Offenses provides for liability for each case of a “spoofed” call, most likely, in the near future we will see a further increase in the number of such cases,” believes Mr. Demidenko. In his opinion, “there is no need to count on a positive decision from the district courts”: according to the law, the very fact of a violation entails punishment, and it is “almost impossible” to appeal against it.
Tele2 said that recently the Ministry of Digital Development (they did not respond to Kommersant’s request) sent out methodological recommendations on the procedure for holding operators accountable for passing traffic with substitution of numbers for prosecutor’s offices and local courts: “In the document, the ministry provided explanations on the main situations, in which the prosecutor’s office initiates cases of administrative violations of operators.” The company expects that these clarifications will reduce the number of appeals to the court.