OECD: Lithuania must improve foreign bribery enforcement

Lithuania must improve foreign bribery enforcement and corporate liability law

Lithuania must improve foreign bribery enforcement and corporate liability law, says OECD Working Group on Bribery

Lithuania has a largely sound legislative and policy framework for fighting foreign bribery, and additional efforts such as digiitalisation of the seeking of bank information for investigations are commendable. However, Lithuania has yet to prosecute or convict an individual or company for foreign bribery. Authorities have also overlooked some allegations of this crime reported in the foreign media, and not proactively investigated others.

The 46-country OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions has just completed its Phase 3 evaluation of Lithuania’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.

The report expresses other concerns. Lithuanian courts consider whether a shareholder is culpable before holding a company liable for foreign bribery. Such an approach is incompatible with the realities of the modern corporation where management and ownership are often separated by design. Companies’ anti-corruption compliance programmes are not explicitly recognised as a mitigating factor at sentencing. Nor can companies be required to implement such programmes as a part of a sentence. Additionally, despite awareness raising efforts, individuals remain reluctant to report corruption and rates of whistleblowing are poor, largely because of a lack of reporting culture. Multiple avenues of redress are available to whistleblowers who suffer retribution, each offering remedies of varying effectiveness. There is still a low rate of confiscation in actual bribery cases in Lithuania.

The Working Group recommends that Lithuania:

  • Promptly and proactively investigate foreign bribery allegations.
  • Amend its corporate liability law to eliminate the consideration of shareholder culpability.
  • Make the process of redress for retribution easier for whistleblowers.
  • Routinely seek confiscation against bribers.

The report also highlights positive aspects of Lithuania’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. The STT has actively raised awareness of foreign bribery. The systems of the Prosecutor General’s Office and Ministry of Justice for registering mutual legal assistance requests have been improved, though their statistical capabilities need to be strengthened. The establishment of a central register of beneficial owners is welcome, as is a requirement that certain corporate annual reports provide information on fighting foreign bribery.

The Working Group adopted the report on Lithuania on 7 December 2023. The report is part of the Working Group’s third phase of monitoring. The report includes an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Lithuania’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. Pages 58-62 of the report contain the Working Group’s recommendations to Lithuania. Lithuania will submit a written report to the Working Group within two years (December 2025) on its implementation of all recommendations and its enforcement efforts. This report will also be made publicly available.

Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to preserve individual liberty and improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

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