[co-authors: Violeta Zeppa-Priedīte, Krista Niklase]*
1. Is your country a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention?
2. Is your country a member of any other bilateral or multilateral conventions on anti-corruption?
Yes. Latvia is also a member of:
- United Nations Convention against Corruption
- Civil Law Convention on Corruption
- Convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 (2) (c) of the Treaty on European Union on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union
- Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).
3. Are there local anti-corruption laws in your country focusing on corporations, not individuals? If yes, what sanctions can be imposed?
Yes. Although a legal person cannot be held criminally liable, coercive measures can be applied to them in criminal proceedings. According to the Latvian Criminal Law (CL), for a legal person the following coercive measures may be specified:
- restriction of rights
- confiscation of property
- recovery of money.
4. Can companies be held liable for acts of corruption under civil or administrative law?
There is no administrative liability for acts of corruption for companies. As coercive measures can be applied to a legal person, if a victim believes that the entire harm caused has not been compensated within the criminal proceedings, it can be then requested in accordance with civil legal procedures.
5. Is corruption of individuals punishable?
Yes, individuals can be held criminally liable for corruption crimes, for example, bribery (Sections 320–323 of the CL), trading with influence (Section 326.1 of the CL), unlawful requesting, receiving and giving of benefits (Section 326.2–326.3 of the CL), fraud (Section 177 of the CL), and misappropriation (Section 179 of the CL).
6. Are facilitation payments allowed?
No. There is no exemption for facilitation payments under Latvian law.
7. Is there a legal regulation/maximum limit for accepting or giving gifts, invitations, etc.?
Yes. Section 13 of the Law On Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials regulates restrictions on accepting gifts of a public official in fulfilling their duties, as well as when they are off duty. Within the meaning of this Law, a gift is any financial or other kind of benefits (including services, granting and transfer of rights, release from obligations, waiver of a right, and also other activities the result of which a benefit is created), the beneficiary of which directly or indirectly is the public official. Regarding the maximum limit, the Law states that be souvenirs, books, or representation articles are not deemed to be gifts if the total monetary value of those items received from one person within one year does not exceed the amount of one minimal monthly wage (in the year 2022 it is EUR 500).
8. Are bribes to foreign government officials prohibited?
Yes. Section 316 (3) of the CL states that a public official in the meaning of the CL is not only representatives of Latvian State authorities, but also officials or agents of international organizations, international parliamentary assemblies, and international courts. The CL also includes a person holding a legislative, administrative, or judicial office of a foreign state or of any its administrative unit, whether such appointed or elected. This Section also covers a person exercising a public function for a foreign state, including for any of its administrative units or public agency or public enterprise.
9. Does your legislation have any extraterritorial reach?
Yes. Section 4 of the CL provides the applicability of the CL outside the territory of Latvia. For example, Latvian citizens, non-citizens, and foreigners who have a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Latvia, shall be held liable. Coercive measures, in accordance with the CL, may be applied to the legal person in the territory of Latvia. These measure can be applied for an offence committed in the territory of another state or outside the territory of any state irrespective of whether it has been recognized as criminal and punishable in the territory of commitment.
10. Is it possible to confiscate assets from the company?
Yes. According to the Latvian Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), it is possible to confiscate property from a company in two ways: (1) confiscation as an additional punishment, (2) confiscation as a criminally acquired property for the benefit of the State.
11. Does your legislation rely on deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements or any other type of non-trial resolution for corruption?
Yes, in cases specified in the CPL and by fulfilling the conditions specified in this law. Exceptions to trial are (1) termination of criminal proceedings, releasing a person from criminal liability (Section 379 of the CPL), (2) termination of criminal proceedings, conditionally releasing from criminal liability (Chapter 34 of the CPL), and (3) applying application of a prosecutor’s penal order (Chapter 35 of the CPL). However, the possibility of non-trial resolution depends on how the offense is qualified according to the nature and harm of the threat to the interests (i.e., as a less serious crime, a serious crime, or an especially serious crime).
12. Can a company be liable for the acts of its intermediaries or third parties?
Yes. According to Section 70.1 of the CL, a coercive measure to a legal person can be applied if a natural person has committed the offense (1) in the interests of the legal person, (2) for the benefit of the legal person, or (3) as a result of insufficient supervision or control, acting individually or as a member of the collegial authority of the relevant legal person:
- on the basis of the right to represent the legal person or act on the behalf thereof;
- on the basis of the right to take a decision on behalf of the legal person;
- in implementing control within the scope of the legal person.
13. Can a parent company be liable for the acts of its subsidiaries?
No, even though the parent company supervises the subsidiaries, the parent company would not be liable for the acts of its subsidiaries. The coercive measures can be applied to the direct legal person and not also to the parent company.
14. Are there any affirmative defenses or exceptions for those accused of corruption acts?
Yes, in cases specified in the CL and CPL. For example, according to Section 324 of the CL, a person who has given a bribe may be released from criminal liability if this bribe is extorted from this person or if, after the bribe has been given, they voluntarily give information about the occurrence and actively further the disclosure and investigation of the criminal offense. In addition, according to Section 410 of the CPL, the Prosecutor General may terminate criminal proceedings against a person who has substantially assisted in the disclosure of a serious or especially serious crime that is more serious or dangerous than a criminal offense committed by such person.
Yes, but only in an institution of a public person, according to the Regulation No. 630 of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia “Regulations Regarding the Basic Requirements for an Internal Control System for the Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interest in an Institution of a Public Person.” However, it is also highly recommended to implement anti-corruption internal programs in private entities to avoid the application of coercive measures, according to the CL.
16. Is having a compliance program a defense or mitigating factor, while reviewing sanctions?
It is a defense factor. Having a compliance program (e.g., anti-corruption policy, code of ethics, etc.) is a crucial circumstance which is analysed in the proceedings as a measure taken by the legal person in order to prevent the committing of the criminal offense.
17. Could the cooperation with the authorities or an internal investigation be a defense or mitigating factor?
It is a defense factor. Section 21 of the CPL provides for the right to cooperation which may be expressed in (1) the selection of the simplest form of proceedings, (2) the promotion of the progress of proceedings, and (3) the disclosure of criminal offenses committed by other persons.
18. Is there any publicly available guideline issued by the authorities in charge of enforcing anti-corruption laws? For example, manuals on compliance programs, leniency agreements, etc. If so, please provide the link.
Yes. There are guidelines issued by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau which is the leading specialised anti-corruption authority of Latvia. They are available here only in Latvian: https://www.knab.gov.lv/lv/informativie-un-metodiskie-materiali