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

[Strasbourg, 15/04/08] The Council of Europeís Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published today its Third Round Evaluation Report on Estonia. The report, which was adopted on 4 April 2008, 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 recognises that overall, the criminal law of Estonia complies to a large extent with the relevant provisions of the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173). Nonetheless, GRECO identifies a number of inconsistencies and deficiencies in current legislation, including the limited scope of application of the bribery provisions, inter alia with regard to bribery in the private sector, several loopholes relating to the offence of trading in influence and the requirement of dual criminality with respect to corruption offences committed abroad. GRECO welcomes the preparation of draft amendments to the Estonian Penal Code which is currently underway and encourages the authorities to establish an entirely coherent legal framework for corruption offences. Furthermore, GRECO calls upon the Estonian authorities to criminalise active and passive bribery of domestic and foreign arbitrators in accordance with the Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 191) and to sign and ratify this instrument as soon as possible.

Concerning transparency of party funding [theme II], GRECO stresses that Estonia has in recent years taken positive steps towards ensuring transparency of political financing by introducing a set of disclosure obligations for political parties and candidates for election into the legislative framework. However, it appears that the political financing system in Estonia suffers from ineffective supervision and a lack of enforcement of the existing rules. GRECO invites the Estonian authorities to remedy the identified shortcomings, in particular, the lack of independence of the existing monitoring mechanism, the mainly formalistic supervision of the reports of political parties/candidates, the restriction of monitoring to the funding of electoral campaigns, the low level of reporting requirements concerning the funding of electoral campaigns and inadequate sanctions for breaches of the rules.

The report as a whole addresses 17 recommendations to Estonia. GRECO will assess the implementation of these recommendations towards the end of 2009, through its specific compliance procedure.