CE Urges Bulgaria to Incriminate Bribery, Trade in Influence

Bulgaria in EU | November 10, 2010, Wednesday // 13:59|  views

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov came to power last year promising to crack down on corruption. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has called on Bulgaria to increase the effective implementation of the rules on party financing and improve the criminalization of corruption.

"There is a need to clearly incriminate bribery and trading in influence in the various situations where the beneficiary of the undue advantage is a third person," says GRECO Third Round Evaluation Report on Bulgaria, which was issued on Wednesday.

Bulgaria has ratified the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and its Additional Protocol, but according to GRECO report the concept of undue advantage is interpreted too narrowly in practice as implying a material benefit which has a discernible market value.

As for party financing, GRECO report says Bulgaria has managed to introduce essential measures for the transparency and supervision of party financing and election campaigns with the adoption of the 2005 Political Parties Act and other acts regulating the parliamentary, European Parliament, local and presidential elections.

"However, the situation calls for improvements, including a comprehensive harmonization of legislation, to ensure that the financial statements of parties and candidates adequately reflect their financial activity and are accessible to the public in a timely manner," it points out.

According to GRECO clear criteria are also needed to avoid that public facilities be misused for party activity and election campaign purposes.

"The range of sanctions concerning financial irregularities needs to be complemented with more proportionate and dissuasive penalties."

The report cites as an example the Local Elections Act, which has been amended 24 times since its adoption in 1995 – often too late for these amendments to become fully applicable to the upcoming elections, raising suspicions that it has been used as a political tool.

GRECO addresses 20 recommendations to Bulgaria. In the second half of 2012, it will assess the implementation of these recommendations through its specific compliance procedure.

GRECO was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor states' compliance with the organisation's anti-corruption standards. Currently it comprises all 47 member states and the United States of America.

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Tags: Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, bribery, trading in influence, Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, Local Elections Act


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