Group of States against corruption (GRECO)

The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) publishes its Third Round Evaluation Report on Latvia

[Strasbourg, 23/10/08] The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published today its Third Round Evaluation Report on Latvia. The report has been made public following the agreement of the authorities. It focuses on two distinct themes: criminalisation of corruption and transparency of party funding.

Regarding the criminalisation of corruption [theme I], GRECO finds that the current provisions on bribery in the Latvian Criminal Law contain a number of inconsistencies and deficiencies as compared with the requirements established by the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) and its Additional Protocol (ETS 191). GRECO therefore recommends to clarify the terminology used in the provisions on bribery, in particular as there are significant differences in understanding between practitioners. Furthermore, GRECO stresses the need to criminalise active bribery of ‘ordinary’ employees in the private sector, indirect trading in influence, active bribery of certain employees in the public sector – who are not considered to be public officials under Latvian law - and bribery of arbitrators and foreign jurors in line with the standards of the Convention and the Additional Protocol. In addition, Latvia is asked to analyse the defence of ‘effective regret’ and recent cases in which such a defence has been invoked, with a view to minimising its potential for misuse.

Concerning transparency of party funding [theme II], GRECO concludes that the existing legal and institutional framework is well-developed and overall in line with the provisions of Recommendation Rec(2003)4 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on Common Rules against Corruption in the Funding of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns. Nevertheless, as became evident in the 2006 Saeima [parliament] elections, the involvement of entities outside the party structure in election campaigns is an issue of serious concern, which undermines the transparency requirements laid down in the Law on the Financing of Political Organisations. Furthermore, GRECO recommends to take further measures to strengthen the independence of the body entrusted with supervision of party funding rules (KNAB), in particular as regards the procedures for the appointment and dismissal of its Director. Finally, the rather short limitation period for violations of party funding rules needs to be extended and measures taken to enhance the liability of natural persons for certain violations of political finance rules.

The report as a whole addresses 13 recommendations to Latvia. GRECO will assess the implementation of these recommendations in the second half of 2010, through its specific compliance procedure.