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Corruption watchdog proposes stricter penalties for false information in income declarations

Photo: twitter.com.
Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) believes it is necessary to tighten penalties for officials if they write false information in their annual income declaration.


Because corruption has close ties with officials’ illegally acquired material wealth, the matter regarding penalties provided by Section 219 of the Criminal Law (for stating untrue information in state official’s income declaration) and their increase becomes all the more important, as mentioned in Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ approved strategy for CPCB activities in 2018-2019.


Currently the Criminal Law provides a prison sentence of up to three months, community service or fine for stating untrue information in income declarations. This act is classified as a criminal violation.


CPCB notes that current regulations do not permit using special investigation approaches and evidence acquired through specific investigative activities to prove this crime. This makes it hard to work with such crimes.


Because intentional writing of false information in an income declaration often has a causal connection with corruptive actions committed by the bureau’s investigators, CPCB believes it is necessary to expand the sanction provided by Part two of Section 219 of the criminal law so that it is possible to classify this criminal act as a serious crime. In accordance with the Criminal Law, a less serious crime is one for which the punishment includes deprivation of freedom for a period longer than three months but shorter than three years.


CPCB strategy also includes as one of its objectives the focus on financial investigations to make it possible to uncover and confiscate finances acquired illegally in Latvia and abroad. Because crimes of corruption have a material focus, supervision of property matters in criminal processes plays a major role in ensuring success, returning stolen assets to their rightful owners and discouraging people from committing acts of corruption.


CPCB’s experience shows that there are often certain difficulties with calculating the exact extent of damage caused by unjustified price increases in public procurement processes. The bureau has received information from state and municipal institutions that no damage at all was noted in unfair and previously agreed upon procurements because «everything decided on in the agreement was realized».


This kind of approach – not considering unjustified price increase a crime – demonstrates a lack of understanding and negligence towards efficient use of state and municipal resources. It also makes it harder for authorities to tackle criminal activities. CPCB believes it is necessary to work on developing a new approach for calculating losses in such cases.


The bureau also believes it is necessary to strengthen unity and coordinate efforts with the prosecutor’s office on a joint standard for corruption cases.


To improve the country’s business environment, it is important to raise businessmen’s comprehension of the consequences of corruption and the kind of punishment they can expect if they commit or take part in such activities.

BNN/LETA

30-01-2018
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