2020.10.13 16:09

Lithuania scores poorly in fighting business bribery abroad – Transparency International

BNS2020.10.13 16:09

Lithuania's law enforcement is not doing its best to investigate corruption of Lithuanian companies operating abroad, according to a report by the NGO Transparency International.

Lithuania has been awarded 3 points for the initiated investigations and is classified among countries with limited enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The country was awarded two points in 2018.

“I would like our businesses and law enforcement institutions to comply even better with international commitments and to pay more attention to promoting business transparency," Sergejus Muravjovas, CEO of Transparency International Lithuania, said in a statement.

"The examples of neighbouring Latvia and Estonia demonstrate that this is achievable,” he added.

Between 2016 and 2019, Lithuania's corruption watchdog, the Special Investigation Service (STT), launched three investigations into bribery of foreign officials by Lithuanian companies operating abroad.

They involved an aircraft and engineering company in the United States, a frozen products company in Russia and a pharmaceutical company in Latvia, the statement said.

The latter case is the only one of the three that is still ongoing.

The investigation into bribery of a US official has not reached the court due to a lack of evidence, while crimes linked to the Russian frozen products company have not been fully investigated due to the suspect's legal immunity.

According to Transparency International, the only ongoing STT investigation centres around the company Solis Tribus. Its shareholder and director is suspected of engaging in corrupt and anti-competitive practices in Latvia and Lithuania in order to restrict or monopolise blood plasma collection.

The STT told BNS the pre-trial investigation, launched in 2018, was completed in early September and suspicions were brought against Antanas Petrošius, a Solis Tribus shareholder, and Joana Bikulčienė, former director of the National Blood Centre.

The United States (1,236), the United Kingdom (147), Switzerland (125), and Israel (38) have been rated the best for law enforcement investigations and their outcomes.

Estonia (7) and Latvia (6) scored higher than Lithuania, but they also fall into the group of countries with limited compliance with OECD obligations to investigate foreign bribery.