Latvia is the only European Union (EU) Member State to have improved its performance in combating bribery of foreign public officials, according to Transparency International's report Exporting Corruption 2022. The successful pre-trial investigations carried out by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau of Latvia (KNAB) and the measures taken by Latvia to improve this area have been welcomed and placed on a par with the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Norway.
Transparency International's report notes that although Latvia comprise small share of global exports, it is a relatively recent member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, so "this progress is encouraging".
The Organisation welcomes the measures taken by KNAB to take a proactive approach to combating bribery of foreign public officials, as well as the improved inter-institutional cooperation with the Financial Intelligence Unit in combating bribery of foreign public officials and money laundering. The Organisation calls for further progress and encourages Latvia to improve the legal framework and provide the competent institutions with the necessary resources.
Mr Jēkabs Straume, Director of KNAB: "International recognition is a proof of the important work carried out by KNAB and Latvia in the fight against bribery of foreign public officials, including in the implementation of the OECD recommendations and successful inter-institutional cooperation. Combating bribery of foreign public officials remains one of the priorities of KNAB, which continues to work in close cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, including the Prosecutor General's Office and the Financial Intelligence Unit."
The report covers 43 of the 44 signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention as well as in China, Hong Kong SAR, India and Singapore. The performance indicators are grouped into four combating categories – active, moderate, limited and low or non-existent.
Latvia is one of the seven countries assessed as having a moderate performance in combating bribery of foreign public officials. Latvia is the only EU Member State and one of the two OECD Convention signatories to have improved its performance in combating bribery of foreign public officials and to have achieved an increase in the categories assessed. Latvia is ahead of countries such as Canada, Sweden, Singapore, Lithuania, Estonia, etc.
Notes for media:
- OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions points to the opacity of the methodology used in the Transparency International report, as well as potential factual gaps.
- The OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions entered into effect in Latvia on 30 May 2014.
- In 2020, the KNAB for the first time initiated a criminal prosecution against a legal entity registered in Latvia for the alleged bribing of a foreign public official The company admitted committing a criminal offence and agreed to recovery of EUR 77 400. This is the first tried case of bribery of a foreign public official in Latvia. Under the Public Procurement Law, the company in question is limited in its ability to obtain a public procurement contract for three years after the judgement enters into effect.
- So far, KNAB has proposed to initiate criminal prosecution regarding alleged bribery of foreign public officials in four criminal proceedings.
- Professionalism of KNAB was also recognised last year by the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions. The Working Group pointed at Latvia's significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the Phase 3 evaluation, achieving and demonstrating tangible results in the successful investigation and further progress of criminal cases regarding bribery of foreign public officials.