A judgment of conviction has come into force in a criminal case investigated by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau of Latvia (KNAB) concerning the application of coercive measures against a legal entity in whose interests a natural person offered a bribe on a large scale to a Lithuanian public official. This is the second case of bribery involving a foreign public official in Latvia that has been prosecuted and successfully investigated by the KNAB.

At the end of 2019, a natural person in Lithuania was prosecuted for offering a bribe of EUR 90,000 to the Commander of the Military Air Force of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The aim of the criminal offence was to ensure that the company unofficially represented by the natural person won a public tender for the lease of aircraft. The information contained an indication that the criminal offence was committed by the natural person in the interests of the company that is registered in Latvia. 

In order to verify the information by criminal procedural methods, on 29 June 2021, the KNAB initiated criminal proceedings and, during the investigation, decided to initiate the process of applying coercive measures against the legal entity. On 19 April 2022, after obtaining sufficient evidence that the bribe was offered to a Lithuanian public official for the benefit of company registered in Latvia, the KNAB transferred the criminal proceedings to the Prosecution Office for Investigation of Public Office Holders Misconduct Offences, suggesting to continue the process of applying coercive measures.

On 29 April 2022, the Prosecution Office, seeing grounds for imposing coercive measures on the legal entity, adopted a decision to refer the proceedings for imposing coercive measures on the legal entity to the Court of Economic Affairs.

The Court of Economic Affairs found that the natural person had made the bribe offer in the interests of the particular legal entity and imposed a coercive measure on the company, i.e. the recovery of funds in the amount of EUR 120,000. This year, on 20 February, the Senate of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia refused to initiate cassation proceedings, thus giving effect to the judgment of the court of first instance.

Ms. Ineta Cīrule, Deputy Director for Investigation Matters of the KNAB: “Combating bribery of foreign public officials has been one of the priorities of the KNAB for several years. This is confirmed by statistics as so far the KNAB has successfully investigated five cross-border corruption cases and two of them have resulted in convictions. The work accomplished by the KNAB in this area has also been commended by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and Transparency International, the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.”

“The Prosecution Office has so far strongly supported the actions of holding a legal entity liable when a criminal offence is committed in the interests of, for the benefit of, or as a result of improper supervision or control over a legal entity, including when bribery of a foreign public official has been established. The Prosecution Office intends to follow this course in the future by supervising pre-trial investigations, prosecuting, and maintaining the prosecution in court,” said Mr. Jānis Omuls, Head Prosecutor of the Prosecution Office.

The KNAB explains that international law stipulates that natural persons are prosecuted for bribery in the country where the criminal offence was committed. If bribery was committed in the interests of a legal entity, the respective company is to be held liable in the country where it is registered.