The main novelties of Law of 29 June 2021 No. XIV-471 “On the Amendments to Law of 28 May 2002 No. IX-904 “On the Prevention of Corruption” (Lietuvos respublikos korupcijos prevencijos įstatymo nr. IX-904 pakeitimo įstatymas) concern the following areas:
1. Expansion of the list of terms
The adopted legal act introduces a number of new terms, including “corruption”, defined as “the abuse of powers for the benefit of oneself or another person in the public or private sector” and some other notions such as “corruption risk”, “corruption risk analysis”, “corruption risk management”, “corruption risk factors”. Therefore, the adopted anti-corruption law places particular emphasis on the importance of corruption risk assessment with the aim to counter corruption already at the level of terms and definitions.
2. Anti-corruption units
The Law obliges public bodies and public entities to determine a unit or appoint officials responsible for “creating the environment resilient to corruption” and introduces a number of requirements to such units (officers), including:
- abilities and qualifications sufficient to perform their duties and possibility to continuously improve qualifications in the field of countering corruption;
- possibility to provide data on detected infringements, corruption risk factors, proposals for the improvement of a system of corruption prevention measures directly to the head of the public sector entity;
- sufficient guarantees of independence from the superiors.
The legal act also imposes personal responsibility for the effectiveness of the fight against corruption in a body (entity) on its head and the persons responsible for the prevention of corruption.
3. Corruption prevention measures
The act establishes a number of requirements related to the prevention of corruption for public bodies and public sector entities.
In particular, public bodies are obliged to adopt codes of conduct and other documents establishing a system of anti-corruption prohibitions, restrictions and obligations for their servants, developed in accordance with the nature of the activities of the body; the relevant documents should contain, among other things, a list of corruption risks and measures to eliminate/mitigate them.
The Law stipulates that public entities should, among other things, conduct anti-corruption training for employees and publish information about the violations detected over the last three years (their number and character; actions taken to investigate the offences; measures adopted to mitigate their consequences etc.).
The Law also introduces a new instrument to prevent corruption offences in the public sector organisations, i.e. the determination of the level of resilience to corruption. To this end, an entity or the body to which it is subordinate will assess the quantity and type of the anti-corruption measures adopted, the quality and effectiveness of their practical implementation, the results achieved in the course of their enforcement. After that, based on the findings the level of resilience to corruption of an organisation (from “very low” to “very high”) will be calculated. The procedure for assessing the level of resilience to corruption will be defined by the Government.
4. Reporting of acts of corruption
The Law obliges the employees of public sector organisations to report the commission (planned commission) of corruption offences that come to their knowledge (except for those that have been committed, are being committed or are planned to be committed by close relatives or family members). The bodies authorised to receive such reports (the Special Investigation Service (Lietuvos Respublikos Specialiųjų Tyrimų Tarnyba – LRSTT), prosecuting authorities or any other body of pre-trial investigation) shall ensure confidentiality and anonymity of personal data of whistleblowers and provide them with necessary assistance and protection, pay them a reward in the cases and manner prescribed by Law of 28 November 2017 No. XIII-804 “On the Protection of Whistleblowers”.
5. Corruption risk assessment
The act also clarifies specific aspects of corruption risk assessment in the public sector organisations and public bodies. Under current legislation, the functions to carry out such assessment are assigned to the main anti-corruption body of the country – the Special Investigation Service, whereas the decision to initiate it is taken by the director of the LRSTT or a person authorised by him/her based on the available information about the probability of commission of corruption offences and other criteria.
The updated Law obliges the authority to make publicly available the findings of risk assessment and provide them to the organisations where the assessment was conducted, as well as to publish the aggregated data on the measures adopted by organisations to mitigate the corruption risks detected and/or to eliminate their causes. In turn, organisations will have to publish on their websites the information on their response to the outcome of the assessment that has been made or is planned to be given.
The Law enters into force on 1 January 2022.
It should be highlighted that the Ministry of Justice of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Teisingumo Ministerija) is planning to conduct an assessment of the effectiveness of practical enforcement of the new version of the anti-corruption law by 1 March 2025 and, if necessary, to submit proposals on how to improve it.