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White Collar Crime Laws and Regulations in North Macedonia

White Collar Crime Laws and Regulations in North Macedonia

White Collar Crime Comparative Guide: 2022
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Contributed by Law Office Emil Miftari.

1. Legal Framework

1.1. What is the legal framework for bribery and corruption in your jurisdiction?

 The primary legal framework regulating bribery and corruption in the Republic of North Macedonia is contained in the Criminal Code (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 37/1996 and its subsequent amendments); the Law on Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interests (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 12/2019) and the Criminal Procedural Law (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 15/97 and its subsequent amendments). With the enactment of these laws, companies and individuals in North Macedonia are criminally liable for corrupt practices. 

Additionally, North Macedonia adopted the Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 196/2015 and its subsequent amendments) as one of the strongest laws in the region. It provides protection for private, and also public employees to report misconduct confidentially and protects them from criminal prosecution and other types of liability. 

The Law on Lobbying (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 106/08 and its subsequent amendments) is also adopted in order to prevent illegitimate influence on public policies and processes and possible corruptive effects. The law regulates the conditions for acquiring the status of a lobbyist and lobbying organization, their registration, and obligations. The Registry of Lobbyists is publicly available on the website of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption.

At the same time, North Macedonia has strengthened its institutional and administrative capacity for preventing, investigating, and prosecuting corruption. Important measures were included since the first State Program for Prevention and Repression of Corruption was adopted in 2002 by the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC). The SCPC was created as an independent governmental body with wide-ranging authority in the field of corruption prevention and prosecution. Also, the SCPC has a legal obligation to adopt every five years a five-year National strategy to prevent corruption and conflict of interests. The latest strategy that has been prepared by SCPC for 2021-2025 is pending adoption by Parliament. The first document in this field against corruption is adopted at the highest level, i.e. by the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia.

1.2. Which international anti-corruption conventions apply?

The fight against corruption as an international issue is still ongoing because corruption itself with its phenomena and forms is a major obstacle to the realization of the principles, such as the rule of law. In the last decade, awareness of corruption has increased in North Macedonia and key steps have been taken for reducing corruption. 

With the ratification of two Council of Europe conventions, the Civil Law Convention against Corruption (2002) and the Criminal Law Convention against Corruption (1999) the legislative framework was upgraded with some important instruments for the fight against corruption.  

In 2000, North Macedonia accessioned The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) whose objective is, by using the dynamics of collective expertise and peer pressure, to accomplish the action by individual governments that will build barriers against corruption and bring to justice those who misuse their position for personal gain to the detriment of society as a whole. Also, the activities of GRECO are concentrated on monitoring compliance with Resolution (97) 24 on guiding principles in the fight against corruption.

The Fifth Round Compliance Report on North Macedonia preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top exclusive functions) and law enforcement agencies has been adopted by GRECO in March 2021 as its latest report. 

Furthermore, North Macedonia has ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in April 2007, as the most comprehensive anti-corruption convention, entering into force on December 14, 2005. This convention covers a wide range of corruption offenses, including domestic and foreign bribery, embezzlement, trading in influence, and money laundering. The UNCAC provisions obligate State Parties to take anti-corruption measures in the public and private sectors. This convention is extremely important because it unites all countries, regions, and continents in the fight against corruption. Also, countries agree to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption and are required to give mutual legal assistance in gathering information for use in court.

In addition, North Macedonia has signed the New York Convention of 1958 and is a party to the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

1.3. What is the definition of bribery?

Bribery is a typical corruption crime and in the Criminal Code of the Republic of North Macedonia, it occurs in two forms: receiving and giving a bribe. The Criminal Code also defines the consequences of these two acts.

Receiving a bribe is defined as (an) official person who directly or indirectly requests or receives a present or some other benefit, or receives a promise for a present or some other benefit, in order to perform an official act within the framework of their own official authorization which they should not perform, or not to perform an official act which they otherwise must do or they must perform, or not perform an official act which they otherwise should not perform. 

Giving a bribe is defined as (a) person who, directly or indirectly, gives or promises an official person a present or other benefit, so that they would perform an official act within the framework of their official authorization which they should not perform, or not to perform an official act which they should perform or they must perform, or not perform an official act which they should not perform. 

The received or given present or acquired property gains shall be confiscated.

1.4. Is private sector bribery covered by law? If yes, what is the relevant legislation?

For the private sector, the primary legal framework for bribery and corruption in the Republic of North Macedonia are some of the laws and regulations listed in Section 1.1., such as the Criminal Code, the Law on Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interests, and the Law on Criminal Procedure. 

Additionally, the Law on Public Procurement (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 24/19 and its subsequent amendments); the Company Law (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 28/04 and its subsequent amendments); the Law on Whistleblowers Protection (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 196/15 and its subsequent amendments), and other rulebooks and conventions according to which companies criminally are liable for corrupt activities. 

The Republic of North Macedonia has ratified several international anti-corruption conventions that deal with bribery in the private sector.

The most important international legal document related to corruption is the UN Convention against Corruption from 2003, Resolution No. 58/4, which has been in force since 2005 and the Republic of North Macedonia has ratified through the Law on Ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 37/2007 and its subsequent amendments). 

Furthermore, the Council of Europe Convention on Criminal Law on Corruption was signed by North Macedonia in 1999 and entered force in 2002. As an ambitious instrument aiming at the coordinated criminalization of a large number of corruption practices. It also provides for complementary criminal law measures and for improved international cooperation in the prosecution of corruption offenses.

1.5. What is the definition of a public official and a foreign public official? Are employees at state-owned or state-controlled enterprises treated differently? Are there official lists of public officials, offices, or state-owned or state-controlled enterprises?

According to the Criminal Code, an official person, when marked as a perpetrator of a crime, is considered to be: the President of the Republic of Macedonia, appointed representatives and Ambassadors of the Republic of Macedonia abroad and appointed persons by the President of the Republic, an elected or appointed officer in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, in the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, in the state administration bodies, in the courts, Public Prosecution, the Court council of the Republic of Macedonia, the Public Prosecutors’ Council of the Republic of Macedonia and other bodies and organizations which perform certain professional, administration or other matters within the framework of the rights and duties of the Republic, in the local self-government, as well as persons who permanently or periodically perform an official duty in these bodies and organizations; a civil servant who performs expert, legal, executive, administrative-supervising, and administrative work according to the Constitution and the law; an authorized person in a legal entity which by law or by some other regulation adopted based on the law is entrusted with performing public authority, when they perform the duty within the framework of that authority, as well as a person authorized to represent the associations, foundations, unions and organizational forms of foreign organizations, sports associations, and other legal entities in the field of sport; a person performing certain official duties, based on the authorization given by law or by some other regulations adopted based on the law; a military person, when considering crimes in which an official person is pointed out as perpetrator; and a representative of a foreign country or an international organization in the Republic of Macedonia.

In addition, according to the Criminal Code, a foreign official person, when pointed out as a perpetrator of a criminal activity, is considered to be a person who, in a foreign country, international organization, or a public institution performs as: the President of the Republic of Macedonia, appointed representatives and Ambassadors of the Republic of Macedonia abroad and appointed persons by the President of the Republic, an elected or appointed officer in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, in the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, in the state administration bodies, in the courts, Public Prosecution, the Court council of the Republic of Macedonia, the Public Prosecutors’ Council of the Republic of Macedonia and other bodies and organizations which perform certain professional, administration or other matters within the framework of the rights and duties of the Republic, in the local self-government, as well as persons who permanently or periodically perform an official duty in these bodies and organizations; a civil servant who performs expert, legal, executive, administrative-supervising, and administrative work according to the Constitution and the law; an authorized person in a legal entity which by law or by some other regulation adopted based on the law is entrusted with performing public authority, when they perform the duty within the framework of that authority, as well as a person authorized to represent the associations, foundations, unions, and organizational forms of foreign organizations, sports associations, and other legal entities in the field of sport; a person performing certain official duties, based on the authorization given by law or by some other regulations adopted based on the law; a military person, when considering crimes in which an official person is pointed out as perpetrator in a foreign country. 

Employees at state-owned or state-controlled enterprises are not treated differently.

The State Commission for preventing corruption keeps a register of elected and appointed persons, responsible persons in public enterprises, public institutions, or other legal entities disposing of state capital, notaries, enforcement agents, and administrative officers of category A determined by law or a person employed in the president’s cabinet of the President of the Republic of Macedonia, the President of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, the President of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, the Deputy Prime Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, the Minister and the Secretary General of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia for the performance of tasks of a special adviser, who are obliged to submit a declaration of assets and interests.

1.6. Are there any regulations on political donations?

Political donations such as money, material assets, and services or non-monetary donations are regulated in the Law on Financing of Political Parties (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 76/24 and its subsequent amendments). Political parties are obligated to keep a register for donations and also to report all the donations they have received in their annual report for the donations for the previous year.

1.7. Are there any defenses available?

The defenses for bribery and corruption are regulated in the Criminal Code. Namely, according to the Criminal Code, the person who gave or promised a bribe upon the request from the official person, and who reports this before they find out that the crime was discovered, may be acquitted of the offense of giving or receiving a bribe. No other specific statutory defenses are prescribed.

1.8. Is there an exemption for facilitation payments?

According to the Criminal Code, no exemptions for facilitation payments are prescribed.

See also Section 2.3.

1.9. What are the criminal sanctions for bribery? Are there any civil and administrative sanctions related to bribery cases?

When it comes to the sanctions for bribery, they depend on whether the official person receives or gives a bribe. 

Thus, for receiving a bribe for performing an official act within the framework of their own official authorization which they should not perform, or not perform an official act which they otherwise must do, an official person shall be punished with imprisonment of four to ten years. Or if an official person in order to perform an official act within the framework of their own official authorization which they must perform, or not perform an official act which they otherwise should not perform, the official person shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to five years. If an official person who, after the official act listed above, is committed or not committed, requests or receives a present or some other benefit in connection with this, shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to three years. Also, depending on the property gain, the perpetrator shall be punished with imprisonment of at least four or five years. 

A person who gives a bribe, directly or indirectly, to an official person, so that they would perform an official act within the framework of their own official authorization which they should not perform, or not to perform an official act which they should perform, or a person who mediates for this, shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to five years. If the bribe is for an official person to perform an official act within the framework of their official authorization which they must perform, or not perform an official act which they should not perform, or a person who mediates for this, shall be punished with a fine, or with imprisonment of one up to three years.

If the act is carried out by a legal entity, it shall be punished with a fine.

There are no civil or administrative sanctions related to these kinds of cases.

1.10. Does the national bribery and corruption law apply beyond national boundaries?

The national bribery and corruption laws adopted by the Republic of North Macedonia do apply beyond its national boundaries. Namely, according to the Criminal Code, criminal legislation applies to anyone committing acts of giving or receiving bribery abroad.   

1.11. What are the limitation periods for bribery offenses?

The limitation period for bribery offenses depends on the duration of the punishment for the type of bribery at issue and the period that has passed since the act has been done. This matter is regulated by the Criminal Code.

1.12. Are there any planned amendments or developments to the national bribery and corruption law?

At the current moment, there are no ongoing procedures for amendments to the national bribery and corruption laws. However, in the past few years, some measures have been implemented such as active transparency, delivery of new bylaws and new ethic codes, the realization of the system e-investigator, amendments of the Law on Public Enterprises, and the introduction of a system for following cases, and others.

2. Gifts and hospitality

2.1. How are gifts and hospitality treated?

Gifts and hospitality are treated by multiple regulations, decrees, and instructions such as the Criminal Code, and the Law on the public sector employees for promoting transparency and responsibility in public administration and to minimize the risk such as injustice, bias, and illegal actions. 

Gifts and hospitality are regulated by the: Law on public employees; Law on Administrative Servants; regulation on the criteria, the manner of giving and receiving gifts, reporting gifts, the manner of valuing gifts, the manner of surcharge for personal gifts, as well as the use, storage and recording of items that have become state property through gift; Decree on the manner of management of the received gifts; Code of Ethics for the Members of Parliament in the Republic of North Macedonia; Code of Ethics for members of the Government and holders of public office appointed by the Government; Code of Ethics of local officials in the Republic of North Macedonia; Code of Administrative Servants.

 2.2. Does the law give any specific guidance on gifts and hospitality in the public and private sectors?

Specific guidance on gifts and hospitality in the public sector is regulated in the Law on the public sector employees (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 27/14 and its subsequent amendments), in which there is a prohibition on receiving gifts associated with their work, with the exception of protocol, and occasional gifts of lower value. Gifts received by officials or international organizations that are made during tours, visits, or other similar circumstances are considered protocol gifts.

Multiple codes of ethics are adopted by the Republic of North Macedonia, and the most significant are: the Code for Administrative Servants (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 183/2014); the Code of Ethics for Members of Government and Holders of executive functions appointed by the Government (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 253/2020), and the Code of Ethics for Members of Parliament (Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 109/2018).

Additionally, in the Criminal Code, there is a section for crimes against official duty, misuse of official position, and authorization in which an official person who, by using their official position or authorization, by exceeding the limits of their official authorization, or by not performing their official duty, acquire for themselves or for another some kind of benefit, or cause damage to another, shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to three years.

As for the private sector see Section 1.4.

2.3. Are there limitations on the value of benefits (gifts and hospitality) and/or any other benefit) that may be given to a government/public official? If so, please describe those limitations and their bases?

There is a certain limitation that refers to gifts given to a public official. The gifts should not exceed the value of MKD 1.000, or if the gifts are from the same person the total value should not exceed MKD 3.000 in a given year and these types of gifts are considered gifts of lower value. This limitation shall also apply to the spouse of the employee, the person living with the employee in an extramarital union, their children, parents, and other persons living in the same household.

2.4. Are there any defenses or exceptions to the limitations (e.g. reasonable promotional expenses)?

There are no exceptions for the above (see Section 2.3.) But, if the gifts exceed the values listed above, public sector employees are required to warn the givers. In case the giver insists that the gift is received, the employee, or the persons listed in Section 2.3. shall be obligated to deliver the gift to the employer. 

3. Anti-corruption compliance

3.1. Are companies required to have anti-corruption compliance procedures in place?

At the moment there are no rules that generally oblige companies in the private sector to have an anti-corruption compliance procedure in place. However, there is an initiative in cooperation with commerce chambers, some programs, and integrity rules to be introduced in order to protect the integrity of private companies.

However, often companies in the Republic of North Macedonia in order to build trust and security for customers and employees and also to fulfill the business strategy bring their own internal Procedures, Guides, and Codes of Business Ethics that are mandatory for the company. It is required that these procedures comply with the laws, regulations, and internal provisions in order to prevent corruption and bribery, protection of the property of the company, protection of personal data, management of confidential information, etc., and by encouraging employees to report illegal behavior. At the same time, these procedures indicate that the relevant laws on criminal liability as well as the disciplinary liability of the employee will be applied for violation of the procedures.

3.2. Is there any official guidance on anti-corruption compliance?

Article 5 of the UNCAC provides that each state party to the convention, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system, shall prepare, implement and pursue coordinated policies for the effective prevention of corruption in full compliance with the principles of the rule of law, integrity, transparency, accountability, and responsibility.

Each country should create preventive anti-corruption strategic documents. Pursuant to the Law on Prevention of Corruption, the competent body in the Republic of North Macedonia for preparation and adoption of the State Programs for Prevention and Repression of Corruption and Conflict of Interest with the Action Plan as a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy is the SCPC, which is also responsible for monitoring the implementation of the measures and activities of the action plan. 

3.3. Does the law protect whistleblowers reporting bribery and corruption allegations?

The protection of whistleblowers reporting these kinds of crimes is regulated in the Law on whistleblowers’ protection. There are three kinds of protected whistleblowing: internal, external, and public. It is forbidden to reveal or to allow the identity of the whistleblower to be revealed without his/her consent unless it is required by a court decision in the cases where it is necessary for conducting a procedure before a competent body. Also, the authorized person for the receipt of reports from whistleblowers shall be obliged to protect the data of the whistleblower, that is, the data on the basis of which the identity of the whistleblower can be revealed, unless the whistleblower agrees such data to be revealed, and it is made in accordance with the law regulating personal data protection. The whistleblower has the right to court protection before a competent court in accordance with the law. 

Moreover, there is a provision of protection for the whistleblower in which the whistleblower and his/her close person shall be provided protection against any kind of violation of a right, during the determination of liability, sanction, termination of employment, suspension, reassignment to another job which is less favorable, discrimination or harmful activity or danger of causing harmful activities because of the protected internal and external whistleblowing or protected public whistleblowing. This kind of protection is provided by the institution, that is, the legal entity where the whistleblowing has been made by taking activity to prevent the violation of rights under employment or of any right, and by refraining from taking activities that violate or jeopardize any right of the whistleblower because of the whistleblowing.

4. Corporate criminal liability

4.1. Can corporate entities be held liable for bribery and corruption? If so, what is the nature and scope of such liability?

The Criminal Code prescribes liability for the crime of giving a bribe not only to natural persons but also to legal entities. However, this does not exclude the criminal liability of the natural person as a perpetrator of the criminal act. According to the Criminal Code, the legal entity conducting acts of bribery shall be punished with a fine.

4.2. Can a company be liable for a bribery offense committed by an entity controlled or owned by it? Are there requirements for the parent to avoid liability in these situations?

There are no special provisions in the Criminal Code prescribing liability of the company for a bribery offense committed by an entity controlled or owned by it.

4.3. Can a company be liable for corrupt actions of a third-party agent engaged to help it obtain or retain business or a business advantage (such as government or regulatory actions or approvals)? If so, are there measures recognized in law, enforcement, or regulatory guidance to mitigate this liability?

According to the Criminal code, the acts of giving a bribe may be performed directly or indirectly. Thus, if the company acted indirectly through the agent, then the company may be found liable. In such a case, it should be proven that the company knew about the agent’s acts and consented to them.

4.4. What are the sanctions for the corporate criminal entity?

For criminal acts perpetrated by legal entities, a fine shall be imposed as primary punishment: the fine shall be pronounced in an amount that cannot be less than MKD 100,000 and higher than MKD 30 million. And for criminal acts perpetrated for their own benefit, as well as criminal acts resulting in benefit or causing high scale damages, a fine doubling the amount of the maximum of this punishment or proportional to the amount of the caused damages may be imposed, i.e. the realized benefit, but at most to their amount increased ten times. 

If a legal entity, directly or indirectly pledges, offers, or gives a gift to another or a pledge for such benefit, to, in the performance of the economy, finance, trade, service, or another economic activity, neglect the interests of the legal or natural entity upon conclusion or extension of an agreement or undertaking of another action or to realize unjustified benefit or to cause damage of a greater value for the legal or natural entity or a third party, shall be punished with a fine.

The court can decide that the pronouncement of one or several auxiliary punishments is corresponding to the gravity of the perpetrated criminal act and that it can prevent the legal entity to perpetrate such acts in the future, the court can pronounce some of the following punishments: prohibition to obtain a permit, license, concession, authorization, or another right determined by a separate law; prohibition to participate in public call procedures, public procurement agreement awards and public-private partnership agreements;  prohibition to found new legal entities; prohibition to use subventions and other favorable funding, etc., regulated by the Criminal Code.

When giving out a punishment, the court shall consider the balance statement and the successful balance of the legal entity in question, the type of business, and the nature and the gravity of the crime committed.

In addition, if a legal entity gains property from the crime of the perpetrator, this gain shall be confiscated.

5. Criminal proceedings

5.1. What authorities can prosecute corruption crimes?

In 2007, The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption grew into a special prosecutor’s office for dealing with cases related to organized crime and corruption in the whole territory of the Republic of North Macedonia. The headquarters of the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption are in Skopje (the capital city). And it is held accountable for its work by the Public Prosecutor of the Republic of North Macedonia, who oversees the work of this public prosecutor’s office, as well as to the Council of Public Prosecutors. The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption derives its competence from the Law on Public Prosecution, which enumerates the criminal acts for which the prosecution acts. 

5.2. Is there a legal obligation to report bribery and corruption cases? If so, to whom does it apply and what are the sanctions for failing to meet such an obligation?

Everyone has the right to report suspicion or cognizance of corruption and to be protected pursuant to the law. This is a principle named the “Principle of protection and liability” in the Law on Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interests. But, only an official person is obligated to report any criminal offense related to corruption, as well as any violation of the provisions of this law, which he/she has learned in the performance of his/her duties. Also, if an official person is offered a bribe, the person is obliged to take measures to identify the briber and to report him/her to the competent authority. Additionally, еvery employee in a bank, savings house, exchange office, insurance company, stock exchange, or other financial organization is immediately obligated to report a suspicious transaction related to corruption. The report shall be submitted to the responsible person in that legal entity and the bodies designated by law, as well as to the State Commission. The organizer of a stock exchange is obliged to keep a record and register all transactions executed on the stock exchange.

5.3. Is there any civil or administrative enforcement against corruption crimes?

There is no civil or administrative enforcement against corruption crimes. 

5.4. What powers do the authorities have generally to gather information when investigating corruption crimes?

The entire pre-investigation and investigation procedure is entrusted to the public prosecutors who have the right and duty to direct the actions of the bodies competent for detection and reporting criminal acts and their perpetrators, to find, propose, and also to provide evidence, to issue an order to undertake special investigative measures, for conducting an investigative procedure, as well as temporary measures. 

During the investigation, in accordance with the law, the public prosecutor may undertake the following investigative actions: search; temporary safeguarding and seizure of objects or property; examination of the suspect; examination of witnesses; commissioning expert reports; crime scene investigation and reconstruction; and special investigative measures. Investigative actions may be taken even before the initiation of the investigation procedure if there is a danger of procrastination, under conditions and in a procedure as provided for in this law.  

The public prosecutor is obliged, in a convenient manner, to inform the defense counsel, the injured party, and the suspect about the time and location of the investigative actions that they may be present, except if there is a danger of procrastination. If the suspect has a defense counsel, as of a rule, the public prosecutor shall inform the defense counsel only. If the person who has been informed about the investigative action is not present, the action may be performed in his/her absence. Any persons, present during the investigative actions may suggest to the entity conducting the procedure to ask the suspect and the expert certain questions that might clarify the issues, and if approved by the entity conducting the procedure, they may also ask them direct questions. These individuals shall also have the right to ask for their remarks regarding the performance of certain actions to be put on the record.  

Also, for the benefit of the criminal procedure, for the region covered by one or more public prosecution offices, investigation centers of the public prosecution shall be established. The investigation centers are established with a decision by the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Macedonia.

In order to clarify certain technical and other professional issues that pose themselves with regard to any evidence collected or during the performance of certain investigative actions, the public prosecutor may ask any competent person or an appropriate institution to provide him or her with the necessary explanations on those issues. The public prosecutor shall compile a record of the professional explanations received, which may be used during the procedure. 

At the end of an investigation, the public prosecutor shall terminate the investigation procedure when he/she believes that the case has been sufficiently clarified so as to raise an indictment or terminate the investigation procedure. 

Further, the Judicial Police, ex officio or upon order by the public prosecutor shall take measures and activities in order to detect and criminally investigate crimes, prevent any further consequences of the crimes, apprehend and report the perpetrators, secure the evidence, and other measures and activities that might be useful for an unobstructed criminal procedure.

5.5. Is there any form of leniency law in your jurisdiction, allowing a party to a bribery or corruption crime to voluntarily confess to the crime in exchange for a release from liability or reduction of the penalty?

Pursuant to the Criminal Code, the court may release from a penalty a person who gave or promised a bribe upon the request from the official person, and who reported this before he/she finds out that the crime was discovered. The possibility of releasing from penalty is prescribed only for the crime of giving a bribe and not for receiving a bribe.

5.6. Can a person plea bargain in corruption cases? If so, how is such a process conducted? 

A person can plea bargain in corruption cases. Namely, before raising the indictment, the public prosecutor and the suspect may submit a draft plea agreement requesting from the preliminary procedure judge to impose a criminal sanction determined by type and duration within the legally prescribed limits for the specific criminal offense, however, not lower than the limits for mitigation of the sentence as defined by the Criminal Code. 

After the submission of the draft plea agreement, the judge of the preliminary procedure schedules a hearing for assessment of the draft plea agreement within three days from the receipt of the draft plea agreement. The judge summons at the hearing the persons who filed the draft plea agreement and is obliged to examine if it has been submitted voluntarily, whether the suspect is aware of the legal consequences from its acceptance, any consequences related to any legal or property claims, and the costs for the criminal procedure. Throughout the hearing, the public prosecutor, the suspect, and his/her defense counsel must not put forward a motion for a criminal sanction that is different from the criminal sanction contained in the draft plea agreement. If the public prosecutor or the suspect and his/her counsel put such a motion, they shall be considered to have desisted from the draft plea agreement and the judge of the preliminary procedure shall issue a ruling. The preliminary procedure judge advises the public prosecutor and the suspect and his/her defense counsel of their right to withdraw from the draft plea agreement before the ruling is made. The preliminary procedure judge advises the public prosecutor, the suspect, and his/her defense counsel that the acceptance of the draft plea agreement shall be considered as waiving the right of appeal against any judgment reached on the basis of the draft plea agreement.

If the preliminary procedure judge finds that the collected evidence regarding the facts relevant for selecting and determining the criminal sanction do not justify the pronouncing of the proposed criminal sanction, i.e. that the public prosecutor, the suspect, and his/her defense counsel filed a motion during the hearing for a criminal sanction that is different than the one contained in the draft plea agreement, he/she shall enact a decision rejecting the draft plea agreement and submit the case files to the public prosecutor.

If the preliminary procedure judge accepts the draft plea agreement, he/she shall pronounce a judgment where he/she must not pronounce a criminal sanction different from the criminal sanction contained in the draft plea agreement. 

A person can plea also after raising the indictment. Namely, if the judge or the indictment review chamber accepts the guilty plea, upon a motion by the suspect and his/hers defense counsel or upon a motion by the public prosecutor, it shall be possible to ask for a postponement of the hearing in order to conduct a plea bargaining procedure and file a plea bargaining agreement. In the event of such a motion, the judge or the indictment review chamber shall postpone the hearing for a period of 15 days and set the date for the next hearing. If the judge or the indictment review chamber does not accept the guilty plea, the judge or the chamber shall note that in the record, inform the present parties accordingly and the indictment review hearing shall continue.

Guide Contributors For North Macedonia

Emil Miftari

Attorney at Law

miftari@miftarilaw.com.mk

+389 2 6133 646

 

Elena Nikodinovska Miftari

Attorney at Law

nikodinovska@miftarilaw.com.mk

+389 2 6133 646

 

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