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Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption publishes Report on Lithuania
Strasbourg, 17 February 2010 - The need to lower the level of proof required to convict a person for corruption and more clarity in supervision of party financing in Lithuania are the highlights of a report published today by GRECO, the Council of Europe’s monitoring body dedicated to the fight against corruption. Prepared within the framework of GRECO’s Third Evaluation Round, the report focuses on two distinct themes: criminalisation of corruption and transparency of party funding.
Regarding incriminations of corruption [link to theme I], the Lithuanian Penal Code puts a premium on consistency and this limits legal loopholes in the existing bribery law. With the exception of trading in influence, the corruption offences contained in the Penal Code reflect most of the main requirements of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption [link]. That said, Lithuania will have to ratify the Additional Protocol [link] to this Convention, which applies to arbitrators in commercial, civil and other matters as well as jurors. Some adjustments are also required, for instance spelling out clearly that it does not matter whether the beneficiary of a bribe is the bribe-taker him/herself or a third party. The report stresses that the level of proof required to convict a person for corruption appears to be too high. As a consequence, many possibly corrupt acts are not prosecuted. The prosecution of corruption-related offences would benefit from using, more widely, evidence based on objective factual circumstances.
Concerning transparency of party funding [link to theme II], Lithuania’s Law on the Financing and Financial Control of Political Parties and Political Campaigns of August 2004 is largely in line with the principles contained in Recommendation (2003)4 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns [link]. Nevertheless, some improvements are required. In particular, the scope of the parties’ consolidated accounts should systematically take into consideration their various components and structures, the valuation of in-kind donations must be clarified and the role of campaign treasurers be strengthened. Currently, supervision of political financing is clearly the weakest element: the responsibility in this area is split between the Central Electoral Commission and the State Tax Inspectorate and the checking by both of these institutions is more of a formalistic nature. This is all the more worrying since it is common knowledge that parties and candidates handle more money than which is officially declared.
The report as a whole addresses 21 recommendations to Lithuania. GRECO will assess the implementation of these recommendations in the first half of 2011, through its specific compliance procedure.
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