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Slovenia - Corruption

Corruption is offering, receiving, or demanding a bribe for favorable decisions by a public or private individual in a position of authority. Criminal offenses that involve corruption are specified in Slovenia's penal code. Informal networks that facilitate corruption arise as persons in influential positions develop ongoing contacts that are regularly used to benefit the parties involved. These networks increasingly operate by principles that apply to organized criminal associations. Surveys in Slovenia indicate that 52 percent of citizens view corruption as a serious problem, but relatively few report having been directly impacted by it. Their views have derived mainly from media reports.

Slovenia has been involved in a pilot project designed to identify and examine informal networks in the areas of public procurement, party funding, lobbying, and the judiciary in four Eastern European countries in transition toward a democratic government and a market economy. Selected interviews conducted in the course of the pilot project in Slovenia reveal that a cross-section of Slovenian society view the political situation as stable and institutions as well-developed; however, the economy is in stagnation while a small percentage of people obtain wealth through informal networks that benefit participants. Tailoring laws to address forms of corruption will help, but law enforcement tactics and tools must also change, such as allowing law enforcement agents to conduct "sting" operations. Further, more effective mechanisms of accountability and transparency must be developed in order to make it more difficult for informal networks to conduct their business in secret and with impunity.

The public perceived corruption to be a widespread problem. Only the highest-level government officials--approximately 5,000 of the country's 80,000 public servants--were subject to financial disclosure laws. During 2009 the Independent Commission for the Prevention of Corruption received 1,018 cases of suspected corruption and found 207 out of the 721 cases they reviewed during the year to be credible (some of the 721 will likely have been cases from earlier years). The investigation of several officials and private individuals in Finland and Slovenia for corruption related to the 2007 Ministry of Defense purchase of armored vehicles from a Finnish defense contractor was ongoing at 2009 year's end.

The commission played an active role in educating the public and civil servants about corruption; however, it claimed it had neither adequate staff nor funding to fulfill its mandate and assess all cases of suspected corruption that it received during the year. During the year the commission forwarded 213 suspected cases of corruption to police and prosecutors and 26 cases to other state institutions, including cases received in 2008 but not processed until the next year.

Similar to many other European countries, Slovenia does not have a bribery statute equal in stature to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. However, Chapter 24 of the Slovene Criminal Code (S.C.C.) provides statutory provisions for criminal offenses against the economy. Corruption against the economy can take the form of corruption among private firms or corruption among public officials.

The S.C.C. provides for criminal sanctions against officials of private firms for the following crimes: forgery or destruction of business documents; unauthorized use or disclosure of business secrets; insider trading; embezzlement; acceptance of gifts under certain circumstances; money laundering; and tax evasion.

Specifically, Articles 247 and 248 of the S.C.C. make it illegal for a person performing a commercial activity to demand or accept undue rewards, gifts, or other material benefits that will ultimately result in the harm or neglect of his business organization. While Article 247 makes it illegal to accept gifts, Article 248 prohibits the tender of gifts in order to gain an undue advantage at the conclusion of any business dealings.

Public officials are held accountable under Article 267 of the S.C.C., which makes it illegal for a public official to request or accept a gift in order to perform or omit an official act within the scope of his official duties. The acceptance of a bribe by a public official may result in a fine or imprisonment of no less than one year, with a maximum sentence of five years. The accepted gift/bribe is also seized.

While Article 267 holds public officials accountable, Article 268 holds the gift's donor accountable. Article 268 makes it illegal for natural persons or legal entities to bribe public officials with gifts. Violation of this article carries a sentence of up to three years. However, if the presenter of the gift discloses such bribery before it is detected or discovered, punishment may be omitted. Generally, the gift is seized. However, if the presenter of the gift disclosed the violation, the gift may be returned to him/her.

The state prosecutor's office is responsible for the enforcement of the foregoing anti-bribery provisions. The number of cases of actual bribery is small and is generally limited to instances involving inspection and tax collection. Although the prosecutor's office may suspect bribery and related corruption practices in government procurement offices, obtaining evidence is difficult, thereby making it equally difficult to prosecute. Corruption in Slovenia is on a relatively minor scale, although 2001 saw Slovenia's first serious scandal involving a high public official convicted of accepting a bribe.

The public perceived corruption to be a widespread problem. Only the highest-level government officials--approximately 5,000 of the countrys 80,000 public employees--were subject to financial disclosure laws. As of October 28, the Independent Commission for the Prevention of Corruption received 1,026 reports of suspected corruption, compared with 1,033 for the same period in 2010. On 10 August 2011, Minister of Interior Katarina Kresal, denying any wrongdoing, resigned after the Court of Audit and the Anticorruption Commission declared that her conduct in obtaining building leases for her National Bureau of Investigation was improper and corrupt.

The Slovenian Ministry of Defense's (MOD) announcement on June 12, 2006 that Finnish defense contractor Patria won a 330 million USD (263 million Euro) contract to supply 135 8x8 armored vehicles to the GoS, was by months of simmering allegations beginning with complaints of non-transparency in the tender review and selection process. It is alleged that Prime Minister Jansa's SDS received more than 2.8 million Euro from Patria "under the table" as part of the deal for armored vehicles. Five officials, including former prime minister Janez Jansa, remained on trial in 2011 for bribery and accepting bribes in connection with a 2006 Ministry of Defense contract to purchase armored vehicles from the Finnish defense company Patria for 278 million euro ($361.4 million).

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Page last modified: 09-11-2012 19:25:08 ZULU