Contributed by Dentons.
1. Legal Framework
1.1. What is the legal framework for bribery and corruption in your jurisdiction?
The essential legal framework for bribery and corruption in the Slovak Republic is Act No. 300/2005 Coll. (Slovak Criminal Code).
In the Slovak Republic, criminal offenses associated with corruption are incorporated in chapter 8 “Criminal Offenses Against Public Order,” in the third part named “Corruption” of the Slovak Criminal Code. The Slovak Criminal Code contains a total of six criminal offenses described in Sections 328 to 336d regulating corruption and bribery.
The criminal offense of “receiving a bribe” is regulated in Sections 328 – 330 of the Slovak Criminal Code. The criminal offense of “bribery” is regulated in Sections 332 – 334 of the Slovak Criminal Code. Section 336 regulates “indirect corruption,” Section 336a regulates “election corruption,” Section 336b governs “sports corruption,” and Sections 336c and 336d of the Slovak Criminal Code regulate “receiving and granting an undue advantage.”
1.2. Which international anti-corruption conventions apply?
The Slovak Republic is a party to all the main international instruments adopted in the area of the fight against corruption.
The Slovak Republic ratified and implemented into Slovak legislation the following treaties and conventions (non-exhaustive list):
i. The Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions adopted by the Negotiating Conference on November 21, 1997, in Paris,
ii. The Criminal Law Convention on Corruption adopted on January 27, 1999, in Strasburg,
iii. The Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption adopted on May 15, 2003, in Strasburg,
iv. The Civil Law Convention on Corruption adopted on November 4, 1999, in Strasburg,
v. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption adopted on October 31, 2003, in New York,
vi. The 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 adopted on May 26, 1997, in Brussels,
vii. The protocol drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union to the Convention on the protection of the European Communities´ financial interests adopted on September 27, 1996, in Brussels,
viii. The Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA of July 22, 2003, on combating corruption in the private sector.
The Slovak Republic is bound by obligations arising from its membership in the European Union, Council of Europe (e.g. the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption), United Nations, and OECD.
1.3. What is the definition of bribery?
“Bribe” is an essential term when it comes to anti-corruption legislation in the Slovak Republic. “Bribe” is defined in Section 131 (3) of the Slovak Criminal Code as a thing or any other performance of pecuniary or non-pecuniary nature to which a person has no legal entitlement. The judicial practice further defines a bribe as an unjustified advantage that the bribed person receives or that a third person receives with the consent of the bribed one. An “unjustified advantage” consists of direct property benefit, e.g. financial or material. Bribe may also be an advantage of another kind, e.g. reciprocal service. The Slovak Criminal Code does not set any minimum value limit for a bribe. However, the value of a bribe needs to be assessed in relation to imposing heavier penalties.
Section 131 (4) of the Slovak Criminal Code defines “undue advantage” as a benefit of a pecuniary or non-pecuniary nature capable of influencing a public official, to which there is no legal entitlement and the value of which exceeds EUR 200, or an unjustified advantage granted to a public official or a person close to him/her which is not measurable in money. An undue advantage is not a benefit or advantage the receipt of which, having regard to an official or materially legitimate interest, is customary in connection with the position or function of a public official or which is recorded in the published Register of Gifts. This definition is relevant only to the crime of receiving and granting an undue advantage under Sections 336c and 336d of the Slovak Criminal Code.
The criminal offense of bribery is regulated in Section 332 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code. Criminally liable is the perpetrator who directly or using another person (indirectly) promises, offers, or gives a bribe to another person to act or omit to act in a way that he or she violates his/her duties arising from his/her employment, occupation, status or function, or for this reason directly or using another person promises, offers, or gives a bribe to the third person.
The criminal offense of bribery has its special provision related to the procurement of matters of general interest. The term “matter of general interest” means an interest that goes beyond the individual rights and interests of an individual and which is important for the interests of society. Under Section 333 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code, criminally liable is a perpetrator who, in connection to the procurement of matters of general interest, directly or using another person promises, offers, or gives a bribe to another person or for this reason promises, offers, or gives a bribe to the third person.
One of the qualified facts of Section 333 (2) of the Slovak Criminal Code which leads to heavier penalties is committing this crime against a public official.
Section 334 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code refers to a foreign public official. Under Section 334 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code, criminally liable is a perpetrator who directly or using another person promises, offers, or gives a bribe to a foreign public official or another person in connection with the execution of official duties or his/her function as a foreign public official with intent to gain or maintain an unlawful benefit.
1.4. Is private sector bribery covered by law? If yes, what is the relevant legislation?
The Slovak Criminal Code regulates bribery in both the private and public sectors.
The Slovak Criminal Code imposes heavier penalties if bribery occurs in the public sector. See Section 1.3. above.
For example, the penalty for bribery under Section 332 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code (bribery connected to the violation of duties arising from employment, occupation, status, or function) is up to three years of imprisonment. However, if bribery is committed in connection with the execution of the function of a foreign public official, the penalty increases to two to five years of imprisonment (Section 334 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code). If bribery is committed in connection with the procurement of a matter of general interest, the court may impose a penalty from six months to three years of imprisonment (Section 333 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code).
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?
The definition of a public official is regulated in Section 128 (1) of the Slovak Criminal Code. The definition of a foreign public official is regulated in Section 128 (2) of the Slovak Criminal Code. These sections state an exhaustive list of public officials and foreign public officials.
For instance, public officials are the president, member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, member of the European Parliament, member of the Government, judge of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic, judge, prosecutor, notary public, mayor, etc.
According to Section 128 (2) of the Slovak Criminal Code, a foreign public official is for example a person who holds an office in the legislative body, executive body, judicial body, arbitration body, or other public authority of a foreign state, including the head of state.
In connection to the criminal offense of receiving and granting an undue advantage under Sections 336c and 336d of the Slovak Criminal Code, a public official is also a person who, by virtue of his/her position or function, has the right to decide or participates in deciding on the disposition with property, property rights and funds, the management of which is subject to control by the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic.
Yes, employees at state-owned or state-controlled enterprises are treated differently, they are not considered public officials.
Yes, there is a list of state-owned or state-controlled enterprises available on the website of each ministry. Specific ministries administer property interests (shares) in specific state-owned companies, and each ministry has a list of companies in which it administers shares, published on its website.
There is an official list of some public officials available on the website of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. The list of prosecutors is published on the website of the General Prosecutors Office of the Slovak Republic. The list of judges is available on the website of the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic, etc.
1.6. Are there any regulations on political donations?
Political donations are regulated by Act No. 85/2005 Coll. on Political parties and Political movements, Sections 23 and 24.
Pursuant to Section 23 (1), a political party may accept a donation only if the value of donations from one donor does not exceed EUR 300,000 in a calendar year. If the value of the donation from one donor exceeds EUR 1,000 in a calendar year, the donation must be made in written form (essentials of such a contract are stipulated in Section 23 (2) (3)). A written form of the donation is not required if the value of the donation is quantified on the document on the basis of which the party received the donation.
Pursuant to Section 24 (2), a political party may accept a monetary donation only if it has been remitted by transfer from another bank account. If it is not proven from the account statement who is the donor, the political party must return this donation to the bank account from which it was provided. If such a bank account does not exist, the political party must remit this donation to the national budget.
Furthermore, Section 24 (1) stipulates a list of subjects from which the donation cannot be accepted (public institutions, civil associations, foundations, non-profit organizations providing services of general interest, non-investment funds, persons who do not have a permanent residence in the territory of the Slovak Republic, etc.)
1.7. Are there any defenses available?
Defense against the criminal liability for corruption offenses is for example regulated in Section 86 (1) (f) of the Slovak Criminal Code, Section 131 (4) of the Slovak Criminal Code, or Article 4 (2) (b) of the Constitutional Act No. 357/2004 Coll. See Sections 1.3., 2.2., 2.3., and 5.5.
1.8. Is there an exemption for facilitation payments?
No, there is not. Any kind of facilitation payments are illegal according to the Slovak Criminal Code. According to the Slovak Criminal Code, any type of bribery is illegal. Even small so-called “grease payments” are illegal because they meet the substance of the crime in accordance with the provisions of the Slovak Criminal Code defining the term bribe.
Section 131 (4) of the Slovak Criminal Code can be considered an exemption (see Section 1.3.). The same applies to Article 4 (2) (b) of the Constitutional Act No. 357/2004 Coll. (see Section 2.2.).
1.9. What are the criminal sanctions for bribery? Are there any civil and administrative sanctions related to bribery cases?
Sanctions for corruption crimes according to Slovak Criminal Code vary depending on the circumstances of the case. The penalty of imprisonment ranges from several months to 15 years. The severity of sanctions depends on the amount of the bribe, the type of illegal conduct (e.g. giving or receiving the bribe), etc.
Apart from imprisonment, other sanctions may come into consideration. For instance, property forfeiture or a monetary penalty may be imposed on the perpetrator found guilty of committing a crime of corruption. The severity of the sanctions depends on the scale of corruptive activities. The court must impose a penalty of property forfeiture on the perpetrator found guilty under Sections 328 (3), 329 (3), and 334 (2) of the Slovak Criminal Code.
Regarding civil law, Section 442 (2) of Act No. 40/1964 Coll. (Civil Code) regulates the right of the damaged party to claim damages from the perpetrator of the crime of corruption in civil court. A person who suffered damage due to any crime of corruption, can demand compensation for actual damage, loss of earnings, and non-pecuniary damage from the perpetrator.
Section 44 (2) (e) of Act No. 513/1991 Coll. (Commercial Code) states that bribery is also considered a form of unfair competition. Unfair competition is conduct in the competition which is contrary to the good morals of competition and is likely to cause injury to other competitors or consumers. Unfair competition is prohibited. Bribery for purposes of the Commercial Code is defined in Section 49 of the Commercial Code.
Under Section 53 of the Commercial Code, persons whose rights have been infringed or endangered by unfair competition may seek an injunction against the infringer to (i) refrain from action, and (ii) remedy the defective status. They may also (iii) claim adequate compensation, which may also be awarded in money, (iv) claim damages, and (v) request a return of unjust enrichment.
1.10. Does the national bribery and corruption law apply beyond national boundaries?
The Slovak Criminal Code (Section 3 (2) a), b)) applies to crimes committed in the territory of the Slovak Republic. A crime is deemed to have been committed in the territory of the Slovak Republic even if the offender (i) has committed the act at least in part within the territory of the Slovak Republic if the violation or threat to the interest protected by Slovak Criminal Code occurred or was intended to occur wholly or in part outside the territory of the Slovak Republic, or (ii) has committed an act outside the territory of the Slovak Republic if the violation or threat to an interest protected by Slovak Criminal Code should have occurred, at least in part, in the territory of the Slovak Republic.
The Slovak Criminal Code (Section 3 (3) of Slovak Criminal Code) applies to acts committed outside the territory of the Slovak Republic on board a ship sailing under the flag of the Slovak Republic or on board an aircraft listed in the register of aircrafts of the Slovak Republic.
The Slovak Criminal Code (Section 4 of the Slovak Criminal Code) applies to acts committed outside the territory of the Slovak Republic by a Slovak citizen or a foreigner who has permanent residence in the territory of the Slovak Republic.
The Slovak Criminal Code (Section 5 of the Slovak Criminal Code) also applies if the act (particularly serious crime) was committed outside the territory of the Slovak Republic against a citizen of the Slovak Republic and, at the place of the act, the act is punishable or if the place of the act is not subject to any criminal jurisdiction.
The Slovak Criminal Code (Section 6 of the Slovak Criminal Code) also applies to acts committed outside the territory of the Slovak Republic by a foreigner who does not have permanent residence in the territory of the Slovak Republic if cumulative conditions (set in Section 6) are met.
1.11. What are the limitation periods for bribery offenses?
Section 87 of the Slovak Criminal Code regulates limitation periods for crimes. The length of a limitation period depends on the penalty for the specific crime set in the Slovak Criminal Code. The limitation period varies from three to 30 years. In the case of corruption crimes, it varies from three to 20 years.
The limitation period is 20 years, if, under the Slovak Criminal Code, the court may impose a sentence of imprisonment with the upper limit of at least 10 years. Examples are corruption crimes falling under Sections 328 (3), 329 (2 or 3), 330 (2), and 332 (3) of the Slovak Criminal Code.
The limitation period is 10 years, if, under the Slovak Criminal Code, the court may impose a sentence of imprisonment with the upper limit of more than five years and less than 10 years.
The limitation period is five years, if, under the Slovak Criminal Code, the court may impose a sentence of imprisonment with the upper limit of at least three years. Examples are corruption crimes falling under Sections 328 (1), 332 (1 or 2), and 333 (1 or 2) of the Slovak Criminal Code.
The limitation period is three years for other (less severe) offenses. Examples are corruption crimes falling under Sections 336a (1 or 2) of the Slovak Criminal Code.
Additionally, according to Section 106 (3) of the Civil Code, the right to compensation for damages caused by crimes of corruption shall be statute-barred three years from the date of the legal validity of the judgment on a conviction (for committing a crime of corruption), but not later than 10 years from the date of commission of the crime.
1.12 Are there any planned amendments or developments to the national bribery and corruption law?
2. Gifts and Hospitality
2.1. How are gifts and hospitality treated?
In general, gifts and hospitality are permitted. However, in some situations, it is difficult to distinguish between gifts and bribes. One of the important requirements to distinguish a gift from a bribe is transparency. Therefore, legal entities often accept monetary donations only through transparent bank accounts. In the context of the public sector, the legislation sets out specific requirements for the provision of gifts and hospitality.
2.2. Does the law give any specific guidance on gifts and hospitality in the public and private sectors?
The Constitutional Act No. 357/2004 Coll. on the Protection of the Public Interest in the Exercise of the Functions of Public Officials regulates providing gifts and hospitality in the public sector.
Under Article 4 (2) (b) of the Constitutional Act No. 357/2004 Coll., public officials are not permitted to ask for, accept, or induce another to give gifts or obtain other benefits in connection with the performance of his/her duties, except for gifts normally provided within the exercise of public office or gifts provided under the law.
Providing gifts or hospitality can under some circumstances lead to criminal offenses under Sections 328 – 336d of the Slovak Criminal Code (receiving a bribe, bribery, electoral corruption, indirect corruption, election corruption, sports corruption, receiving and granting of an undue advantage). These provisions of the Slovak Criminal Code are relevant for both the public and private sectors.
Under Article 7 (1) (f) of the Constitutional Act No. 357/2004 Coll., a public official is required to give annual written notice stating a description of the gift or other benefits received in the previous calendar year if the value of gifts or other benefits from one donor or value of single donation exceeds 10 times the minimum wage (currently EUR 6,460), including a specification of the type of gift and the date of its acceptance.
We are not aware of any other guidance for gifts and hospitality in the private sector.
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?
In general, there is no limitation on the value of benefits (gifts and hospitality) that may be given to a government/public official.
Public officials cannot ask for, accept, or induce another to give them gifts or obtain other benefits in connection with the performance of their duties, except for gifts normally provided within the exercise of public office or gifts provided under the law. (Article 4 (2) (b) of the Constitutional Act No. 357/2004 Coll.).
Public officials cannot accept, request, or accept a promise to be given an undue advantage (see Section 1.3.) for themselves or for another person in connection with their position or function (Section 131 (4) in connection with Section 336c of the Slovak Criminal Code), also no one can grant, offer, or promise to a public official or another person an undue advantage in connection with the position or function of a public official (Section 131 (4) in connection with Section 336d of the Slovak Criminal Code).
According to Section 131 (3) of the Slovak Criminal Code, anything (regardless of value) can be considered a bribe if a person has no legal entitlement to that thing or performance. Simply, giving or receiving a bribe can constitute a crime when the bribe is given or received in exchange for something (Sections 328 – 336b of the Slovak Criminal Code).
See Sections 1.3. and 2.2.
2.4. Are there any defenses or exceptions to the limitations (e.g. reasonable promotional expenses)?
See Sections 1.3., 2.2., and 2.3.
3. Anti-corruption compliance
3.1. Are companies required to have anti-corruption compliance procedures in place?
No, privately-owned companies are not required to have an anti-corruption compliance procedure in place. In respect of the public sector, the Government has adopted resolution No. 585/2018, which lays down the basis for the anti-corruption policy in the public sector for the years 2019-2023. It sets out principles guiding the anti-corruption policy and basic objectives for four years.
However, according to Section 10 (1) of Act No. 54/2019 Coll. on the Protection of Whistleblowers (Slovak Whistleblowing Act), a private company employing more than 50 employees must appoint a person designated to receive notifications of illegal conduct (or suspicions thereof). Under Section 2 (d) of the Slovak Whistleblowing Act, such illegal conduct are corruption offenses under Sections 328 – 336b of the Slovak Criminal Code. Such employers (private companies) must also have an internal document in which they inform their employees on the internal system for the verification of such notifications, confidentiality connected with the notification process, and the protection of the whistleblower´s personal data.
The employer mentioned above is also obliged to accept and verify each notification. Furthermore, the employer is obliged to inform the notifier (employee) of the result of the verification of the notification and the employer has to maintain confidentiality about the identity of the notifying employee.
At the same time, Government Resolution No. 426/2019 on the National Anti-Corruption Programme states the importance of anti-corruption compliance in the private sector. The Slovak Ministry of Economy shall come up with proposals to eliminate corruption in the private sector until the end of 2022. As of right now, there are no official guidelines for the private sector in relation to the elimination of corruption.
3.2. Is there any official guidance on anti-corruption compliance?
As mentioned in Section 3.1., there are guidelines adopted by the Government of the Slovak Republic that provide guidance to the public sector. No such guidelines have been adopted in respect of the private sector.
As stated in Section 3.1., only the Slovak Whistleblowing Act partially regulates anti-corruption compliance in the private sector (protection of whistleblowers reporting serious offenses).
3.3. Does the law protect whistleblowers reporting bribery and corruption allegations?
Yes, the protection of whistleblowers is mainly regulated by the Slovak Whistleblowing Act and Act No. 365/2004 on Equal Treatment and the Protection against Discrimination (Slovak Antidiscrimination Act). The Slovak Antidiscrimination Act provides protection to whistleblowers that have been dismissed in connection with them reporting serious offenses.
In other words, a person notifying the respective authorities of a crime of corruption is protected under the Slovak Whistleblowing Act. This protection can take various forms, for instance, the protection against unfair dismissal by suspending the effect of the employment act (Section 12 of the Slovak Whistleblowing Act). Once the effect of the employment act (such as dismissal) has been suspended, the dismissed whistleblower can file an anti-discrimination lawsuit. Pursuant to Section 9 (2) (3) of the Slovak Antidiscrimination Act, the whistleblower may seek adequate satisfaction during such proceedings and may even claim non-pecuniary damage. The court may also declare the employment act invalid.
On top of that, pursuant to Sections 3 and 4 of the Slovak Antidiscrimination Act, whistleblowers are also protected during the criminal proceedings if criminal proceedings are initiated based on the information provided by the whistleblower and the whistleblower asks for the protection to be provided.
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?
Criminal liability of legal entities is regulated by Act No. 91/2016 Coll. on Criminal Liability of Legal Entities. Specifically, Section 3 refers to crimes for which legal entities can be held criminally liable.
Under Section 3 legal entities can be held liable for the following corruption criminal offenses:
i. Receiving a bribe (Sections 328 – 330 of the Slovak Criminal Code),
ii. Bribery (Sections 332 – 334 of the Slovak Criminal Code),
iii. Indirect corruption (Sections 336 of the Slovak Criminal Code),
iv. Receiving and granting of an undue advantage (Sections 336c and 336d of the Criminal Code).
Under Section 4 (1) of Act No. 91/2016 Coll., a legal entity is criminally liable if a criminal offense is committed in its favor, on its behalf, in course of its activities, or through this entity, if the action was taken by:
i. statutory body or a member of the statutory body, or
ii. person who carries out control or supervision within a legal entity, or
iii. another person, who is authorized to represent the legal entity or to make decisions on its behalf.
The legal entity can also be held criminally liable if some of the aforementioned persons, by insufficient supervision or control which was his/her duty, even negligently, enabled the commission of the offense by a person who acted within the limits of powers entrusted to him/her by the legal entity (Section 4 (2), Act No. 91/2016 Coll.).
Legal entities excluded from criminal liability are state authorities and other legal entities of public nature (Section 5 of Act No. 91/2016 Coll.).
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?
In general, a parent company is not liable for bribery or corruption offenses committed by an entity controlled or owned by it. However, any company may be liable for a criminal offense as a participant in a criminal offense. Pursuant to Section 6 (3) of Act No. 91/2016 Coll., a participant in a criminal offense is a legal entity that has used another legal entity or natural person to commit a crime. For example, if a parent company used its subsidiary company to commit bribery, the parent company may be held liable as a participant in this criminal conduct.
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?
Under Section 4 (1) (c) of Act No. 91/2016 Coll., a legal entity is criminally liable for corrupt actions of a third party (third-party agent) if (i) the third-party agent is authorized to represent the legal entity or to make decisions on its behalf and (ii) the criminal offense is committed in the company’s favor, on its behalf, in course of its activities, or through this entity.
Under Section 8 (2) of Act No. 91/2016 Coll., a company cannot refer to the regulation of so-called “effective remorse,” as this does not apply to corruption crimes. Therefore, there are no measures recognized in law, enforcement, or regulatory guidance to mitigate this liability. However, in terms of sentencing, when deciding on the type of sentence the court shall consider in the case of co-perpetrators, the extent to which the conduct of each of them contributed to the commission of the offense (Section 34 (5) (a) of Slovak Criminal Code).
4.4. What are the sanctions for the corporate criminal entity?
For criminal offenses committed pursuant to Section 3 of Act No. 91/2016 Coll. a court may impose on a legal entity the following penalties (Section 10 of Act No. 91/2016 Coll.):
a) a penalty of dissolution of a legal entity,
b) property forfeiture,
c) forfeiture of items,
d) monetary penalty,
e) prohibition of a certain activity,
f) prohibition to receive donations and subsidies,
g) prohibition to receive aid and support from European Union funds,
h) prohibition of participation in public procurement,
i) publication of a conviction.
The court may also impose on a legal entity the protective measure of confiscation of part of the property.
5. Criminal proceedings into bribery and corruption cases
5.1. What authorities can prosecute corruption crimes?
The police and prosecutor. The court only decides on the guilt and punishment or when the fundamental rights of the accused are at stake.
According to Act No. 301/2005 Coll. (Criminal Procedure Code) and Act No. 171/1993 Coll. on the Police Force, a police investigator has a right to investigate criminal offenses of natural persons and legal persons. However, only the prosecutor can file an indictment against the accused.
A police investigator is procedurally independent. Investigators search for and secure evidence. Police investigators are obliged to take into consideration evidence whether it is in favor of or against the accused.
Prosecutors are “guardians of the investigation,” so-called “dominus litis.” Prosecutors supervise the observance of legality prior to the initiation of criminal prosecution and in the preparatory proceedings. In exercising this supervision, prosecutors are entitled to give binding instructions to police officers, request files from police officers, annul unlawful or unjustified decisions of police officers, participate in the investigation, issue a decision on any matter, etc. (Sections 230 et seq. of Criminal Procedure Code).
General competencies of prosecutors are also stated in Sections 17 et seq. of Act No. 153/2001 on the Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutors also decide in the preparatory proceedings and make proposals to the judge for the preparatory proceedings, conclude plea agreements with the accused and submit proposals of plea agreements to the court for its approval, file an indictment against the accused, etc.
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?
Yes. The obligation to report corruption is regulated in two sections of the Slovak Criminal Code. Section 340 of the Slovak Criminal Code regulates the crime of failure to report a crime. This section explicitly provides that anyone who did in a credible way find out that another person committed a corruption crime and did not report it without undue delay to law enforcement authorities has committed a crime of failure to report a crime. For this crime, the sanctions can be up to three years of imprisonment. However, the perpetrator is exempted from criminal liability if he/she could not report the corruption without endangering himself/herself or a close person or if he/she would violate the legal duty of secrecy or confessional secrecy by reporting the corruption (Section 340 (2) (3) of Slovak Criminal Code).
Section 341 of the Slovak Criminal Code regulates the crime of failure to prevent a crime. The factual nature of this crime is the same as in the case of failure to report a crime, with the difference that, in this case, the crime has not yet been completed and the perpetrator is still preparing or committing the crime. The exemptions from criminal liability are also narrower. When it comes to the legal duty of secrecy, the person is only exempted if the legal duty of secrecy that he/she would violate by reporting the corruption is confessional secrecy.
Closely connected to corruption reporting is the Slovak Whistleblowing Act, which provides protection to those who report corruption. The protection is provided in criminal proceedings and employment relationships. The Slovak Whistleblowing Act also creates a legal basis for providing a monetary reward for reporting corruption. For further details, please see Section 3.
5.3. Is there any civil or administrative enforcement against corruption crimes?
Civil enforcement against corruption crimes consists of a general obligation to reimburse damage (specifically actual damage, lost profit, and non-pecuniary damage) and/or return unjust enrichment. The Civil Code, as a general regulation of private law, regulates general liability for damages (everyone is liable for damage caused by a breach of a legal obligation) and some cases of special liability for damages.
The Commercial Code provides for protection in cases of corruption as a form of unfair competition. The injured party may claim against the perpetrator to refrain from action, remedy the defective status, and provide adequate compensation, which may also be awarded in money, payment of damages, or return of unjust enrichment.
For further details, please see Section 1.9.
5.4. What powers do the authorities have generally to gather information when investigating corruption crimes?
Authorities have broad powers when it comes to investigating corruption crimes. Authorities’ powers are stated in Sections 89 et seq. of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Authorities can (i) seizure an item that is relevant to criminal proceedings for the purposes of evidence, (ii) seizure funds, where facts indicate that the funds are means or proceeds of crime, (iii) seizure of property, (iv) conduct house and body searches, searches of other premises and land, (v) track people and things, (vi) make video, audio, or video-audio recordings, (vii) intercept and record telecommunications traffic, (viii) use agents, etc.
Hereby we will elaborate few means used to gather information on corruption crimes.
Tracking people and things may be carried out only in criminal proceedings on an intentional criminal offense and only if it is reasonable to assume that it will provide facts relevant to the criminal proceedings. Tracking is provided by the relevant body of the police force for a maximum period of six months, which may be extended.
Video, audio, or video-audio recordings may be carried out only if it is reasonable to assume that they will provide facts relevant to the criminal proceedings. The justification of such recordings must be constantly re-evaluated whether the reasons for their execution last.
Interception and recording of telecommunications traffic may be carried out only if it is reasonable to assume that it will provide facts relevant to the criminal proceedings and if the intended purpose cannot be achieved otherwise or would otherwise be substantially impeded.
Regarding the use of an agent, there is a difference between an agent and a so-called “agent-provocateur.” An agent may not incite someone to commit a criminal offense. This does not apply to an agent-provocateur, who is an active participant. An agent-provocateur may be used only in the case of corruption of a public official or a foreign public official and if the findings indicate that the offender would have committed such a criminal offense even if the agent would not be used (Section 117 (2), Criminal Procedure Code).
It is important to keep in mind, that use of the abovementioned means cannot interfere with attorney-client privilege (mainly in the case of interception and recording of telecommunications traffic).
Also, authorities may gather information by interrogating the accused or witness. Interrogations are carried out by police, the prosecutor, or a court in order to obtain essential facts relevant to the criminal proceedings. A person cannot be coerced in any way to testify or confess. For confirmation and verification of testimonies, the law provides further means. When testimony discrepancies occur in accordance with Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the confrontation of the accused/witnesses face-to-face may be used.
Furthermore, authorities may inspect the place (crime scene). An inspection of the place may be executed if the facts relevant to the criminal proceedings shall be clarified by direct observation at the crime scene.
To clarify complex facts the law enforcement authorities shall bring in an expert to give an expert opinion.
Law enforcement authorities shall also use reconstruction and recognition. Reconstruction serves to simulate the situation and circumstances under which the crime was committed. Recognition, on the other hand, takes place if the identity of a person or thing shall be established. The accused or witness must at first describe the given person/thing. Afterward, a person or thing is shown to the accused or witness among several persons of a similar appearance or things of the same kind, and the accused or witness must identify the person/thing. Authorities have many other means available to gather information.
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?
There are two ways to reduce penalties in cases of corruption crimes.
First, Section 39 (2) (e) of the Slovak Criminal Code states that the court may reduce the sentence below the lower limit of the statutory penalty if it convicts the offender who has made a particularly significant contribution (i) to the clarification of a corruption offense or (ii) to the detection or conviction of its perpetrator, by providing evidence of such an offense in criminal proceedings if, in view of the nature and gravity of the offense committed by him/her, the court considers that the purpose of the sentence can be achieved by shorter sentence. The sentence of imprisonment may not be reduced below the lower limit for the organizer, instigator, or commissioner of the offense.
Second, Section 36 (l) of the Slovak Criminal Code states that a confession and honest regret of the offense are mitigating circumstances. In determining the type of sentence and its length, the court must take into consideration the proportion of mitigating circumstances and aggravating circumstances. If the ratio of mitigating circumstances prevails, the upper limit of the statutory penalty shall be reduced by one-third (Section 38 (2, 3) of the Slovak Criminal Code).
A voluntary confession to the crime can lead to release from criminal liability under Section 86 of the Slovak Criminal Code.
Section 86 (1) (f) of the Slovak Criminal Code (so-called “effective remorse”) states that the criminality of the offense is extinguished if the perpetrator of the offense of bribery under Section 332 or 333, indirect corruption under Section 336 (2), or receiving and granting an undue advantage under Section 336d gave or promised a bribe or undue advantage only because he/she has been asked to do so and voluntarily reported it without delay to a law enforcement authority or to the police force.
The prosecutor can terminate the prosecution (Section 215 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code) against an accused who has significantly contributed (i) to the clarification of a corruption offense or (ii) to the detection or conviction of its perpetrator and the interest of society in clarifying such an offense outweighs the interest to prosecute the accused of this or any other offense. The prosecution cannot be terminated against the organizer, instigator, or commissioner of the offense.
The prosecutor can conditionally terminate the prosecution (Section 218 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code) against an accused under the same conditions as stated in Section 215 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. In this case, however, the accused is placed on probation for a period of two to ten years. During the probation period, the accused must fulfill conditions under Section 218 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (contribute to the clarification of a corruption offense or to the detection or conviction of its perpetrator).
The investigator with the prior consent of the prosecutor according to Section 228 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code can suspend the prosecution under similar conditions as stated in Section 215 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
5.6. Can a person plea bargain in corruption cases? If so, how is such a process conducted?
Yes, a person can plea bargain in corruption cases.
The conditions for negotiating and concluding an agreement on guilt and punishment and the process of its approval by the court are regulated in Sections 232 et seq. and 331 et seq. of the Criminal Procedure Code.
If the results of the investigation sufficiently lead to the conclusion that a criminal offense was committed by an accused who confessed to the criminal offense, pleaded guilty, and the evidence suggests that his/her confession is true, the prosecutor can initiate proceedings for a guilt and punishment agreement (at the initiative of the accused or without such an initiative). During plea bargaining, the prosecutor is required to take into consideration the victim’s interest (compensation for damages).
If a guilt and punishment agreement has been reached, the prosecutor shall apply to the court for its approval. The prosecutor files the motion for the approval of the guilt and punishment agreement.
If the accused fully admits his/her guilt for committing the prosecuted act, but no agreement on punishment is reached, the prosecutor files an indictment and asks the court to conduct the main hearing and decide on the punishment (Section 232 (5) Criminal Procedure Code). If the accused admits guilt only partially, the prosecutor files an indictment and asks the court to conduct the main hearing to the extent that the accused has not pleaded guilty and to the extent the accused pleaded guilty and to decide on guilt and punishment (Section 232 (5) Criminal Procedure Code).
The court examines the motion for the approval of the guilt and punishment agreement and either sets a date for a public hearing to decide or rejects the motion. The court rejects the motion if there is a serious breach of procedural rules (mainly violation of the rights of the defense) or regards the agreement as disproportionate (Section 331 (1) Criminal Procedure Code).
If the court rejects the guilt and punishment agreement, the confession of the defendant in the guilt and punishment proceedings cannot be used as evidence in further proceedings.
If the court has not refused the motion, at the public hearing, the proposal for an agreement on guilt and punishment will be presented by the prosecutor. Subsequently, the court will, among other things, ask the accused the questions stated in Section 333 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The answer to all questions must be “yes,” otherwise an agreement on guilt and punishment is not concluded.
If the injured party does not agree with the agreement on guilt and punishment, the court may recommend the injured party to claim for damages in civil proceedings or other proceedings (Section 232 (4) Criminal Procedure Code).
If the court does not approve the agreement, the case will be returned to the prosecutor to preparatory proceedings (Section 334 (3) Criminal Procedure Code). If the court approves the agreement, the court confirms the decision by a judgment against which no appeal is admissible (Section 334 (4) Criminal Procedure Code).