Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (the OECD) Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions (Working Group) started Lithuania’s Phase 2 evaluation in Vilnius, in July 2017.
During this visit, where officers from the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania were actively involved, the Working Group analysed the implementation of the new legislation regarding Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions by law enforcement institutions and courts.
Based on collected information, the Working Group will prepare a draft report of Lithuania’s Phase 2 evaluation. The examination will take place in Paris, in December 2017. Lithuania will be invited to become a member of the OECD when all recommendations (or at least the main of them) will be implemented.
On 26 January 2017, the OECD Council agreed to invite Lithuania to join the Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions. This was formalised through an exchange of letters concluded on 15 February 2017 and on 16 May 2017, Lithuania deposited its Instrument of Accession to the Convention with the OECD. The Law on Ratification of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions No. XIII-305 was adopted by the Seimas on 20 April 2017. It was published in the Register of Legal Acts on 2 May 2017 and entered into force on 3 May 2017.
Lithuania has criminalised bribery of foreign public officials in its Criminal Code (CC) since 2002. Rather than having a standalone foreign bribery offence, bribery of foreign public officials is criminalised through the combined application of CC Articles 227 (Active Bribery) and 230 (Interpretation of Concepts). In an effort to comply with the Convention, both articles were amended in 2015, 2016 and 2017, to fine-tune the definition of foreign public official, define foreign state, clarify the mens rea element, repeal the defence of “effective regret”, and criminalise the bribery of foreign public officials through intermediaries. Article 20(6) of the Criminal Code provides an exception to criminal liability for “the State, a municipality, a state and municipal institution and agency as well as international public organisation[s]”. In 2017 article 20(6) was amended in order to clarify that “State and municipal enterprises, as well as public establishments, where the State or a municipality is an owner or a participant, and public and private companies, where the State or a municipality owns all or part of the shares, shall not be considered to be State and municipal institutions and agencies and they are liable under this code.” This is in accordance with Article 1(4) of the Convention, which requires state-owned and controlled enterprises (SOEs) to be subject to foreign bribery laws.
During the visit in Vilnius, the Working Group experts met members of the Seimas, officers from the Presidency, the Supreme Court, the Appeal Court, the General Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Justice and other institutions, the members from business and media as well.
Membership in the OECD is important not only for Lithuanian authorities, but also for business sector in the trade with foreign countries. The OECD become the leading source of anti-corruption tools and expertise in areas such as international business, taxation, governance, export credits and development aid and Lithuania will have an access and a possibility to implement the best effective methods of disclosing, investigating and preventing corruption related crimes.