Law on the Chief Official Ethics Commission


Published: 2008-01-07

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REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
LAW ON the chief OFFICIAL ethics commission
 
1 July 2008 No X-1666 Vilnius
 
CHAPTER ONE
GENERAL PROVISIONS
 
Article 1. Purpose of the Law
This Law shell establish the status, legal basis of activities, procedure for setting up, competence and organisational structure of the Chief Official Ethics Commission.
 
Article 2. Status, accountability and the Secretariat of the Chief Official Ethics Commission
1. The Chief Official Ethics Commission is a collegiate supervisory authority set up by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, accountable to it, having the rights of the legal person, its own seal bearing the national emblem of Lithuania and the name “Chief Official Ethics Commission”, as well as accounts in the banks. Activities of the Chief Official Ethics Commission (hereinafter referred to as “the COEC”) shall be financed from the State budget.
2. The Secretariat of the COEC shall provide services to this Commission. The Chairperson of the COEC shall approve the regulations of the Secretariat. The Head of the Secretariat of the COEC, who is directly accountable to the Chairperson of this Commission, shall direct the Secretariat. The COEC shall comprise civil servants and persons working under the employment contracts.
 
Article 3. Legal basis and principles of activities of the COEC
1. The COEC shall act in compliance with the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Lithuania, resolutions of the Seimas and the Government, as well as the rules of procedure approved by the COEC.
2. Activities of the COEC shall be based on the principles of respect for the individual and the State, legality, impartiality, transparency, openness and accountability.
 
Article 4. Participation of the public in activities of the COEC 
1. Representatives of associations and other public legal persons shall enjoy the right to participate in sittings of the COEC and to voice their opinion there.
2. The procedure of participation of the entities referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article in sittings shall be laid down by the decision of the COEC.
 
CHAPTER TWO
MEMBERS OF THE CHIEF OFFICIAL ETHICS COMMISSION
 
Article 5. Requirements for the members of the COEC
A citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is of impeccable reputation and has received higher university education may be appointed as member of the COEC.
 
Article 6. Appointment and term of office of the member of the COEC
1. The COEC shall consist of 5 members.
2. The President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Seimas, the Prime Minister, the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania and the President of the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania shall each propose one member of the COEC to the Seimas. The Speaker of COEC shall propose for appointment as member of the COEC one of the candidates proposed by the parliamentary groups of the Seimas, the Prime Minister – one of the candidates proposed by the Government, the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania – one of the candidates proposed by the Lithuanian Lawyers’ Association, the President of the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania – one of the candidates proposed by the Council of the Association.
3. A member of the COEC shall be a state official who is appointed by the Seimas for full-time work in the COEC. The term of office of a member of this Commission shall be five years. The same person may be a member of the COEC not more than two terms of office in succession.
 
Article 7. Appointment of Chairperson of the COEC
On the advice of the Speaker of the Seimas, the Seimas shall appoint Chairperson of the COEC from the members of this Commission.
 
Article 8. Oath of a member of the COEC
1. Before serving on the COEC, a person who has been appointed as a member of this Commission shall take an oath to the State of Lithuania. A person who is taking the oath shall enjoy the right to choose one of the following texts of the oath:
1) “I, member of the Chief Official Ethics Commission (forename, surname) swear to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, respect and observe its Constitution and laws, perform my duties in good faith, protect human rights, freedoms and lawful interests, protect public interests of society, always be impartial, and keep the secrets confided to me.
So help me God!”;
2) “I, member of the Chief Official Ethics Commission (forename, surname) swear to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, respect and observe its Constitution and laws, perform my duties in good faith, protect human rights, freedoms and lawful interests, protect public interests of society, always be impartial, and keep the secrets confided to me.”
2. The oath shall be administered by the Speaker of the Seimas at a sitting of the Seimas.
3. Upon having taken the oath, a member of the COEC shall sign the nominal oath sheet.
4. The defined text of the oath shall not be revised and changed. A member of the COEC who does not comply with this provision, refuses to take the oath or sign the nominal oath sheet, or signs the sheet with a stipulation shall not be considered to have taken the oath and may not perform the duties.
5. Nominal oath sheets shall be handed over to the Speaker of the Seimas and retained in the Office of the Seimas.
 
Article 9. Independence of the COEC and its members
1. While performing its duties, implementing its rights and taking decisions on the issues within its competence, the COEC shall be independent. None of state institutions or state officials may give binding instructions concerning the solution of issues within the competence of the COEC.
2. When performing his official duties, a member of the COEC shall be independent and adhere only to the laws.
 
Article 10. Obligation of the members of the COEC to keep secrets
1. After having signed a pledge the members of the COEC must keep state, official or other secrets protected by law which they have learnt in the course of official duties.
2. The employees of the Secretariat of the COEC, who have signed the pledge, shall also be subject to the obligation to keep secrets referred to 1 of this Article.
 
Article 11. Prohibitions to the Chairperson and members of the COEC
1. The Chairperson of the COEC may not be employed in business, commercial or other establishments, enterprises or organisations, may not receive any other remuneration, except the salary fixed in accordance with the position held and the remuneration for scientific and pedagogical work in higher education establishments or establishments of qualifications improvement of civil servants, remuneration for non-formal adult education and payment for creative activities.
2. Upon having received the consent of the Chairperson of the COEC, a member of the COEC may work elsewhere, provided that this does not cause a conflict of public and private interests, prevent from performing his duties properly.
3. The Chairperson and the members of the COEC may not participate in activities of political parties when performing their duties.
 
Article 12. Substitution of the Chairperson of the COEC
1. When the Chairperson of the COEC is temporarily unable to hold office (because of business trip, vacation, temporary incapacity for work, etc.), he shall charge another member of the COEC to carry out his duties. The member of the COEC who temporarily substitutes for the Chairperson of the COEC shall be paid the salary set for the position of the Chairperson of the COEC.
2. Before the appointment of Chairperson of the COEC his duties shall be performed by the eldest member of the COEC.
 
Article 13. Powers of the Chairperson of the COEC
1. The Chairperson of the COEC shall:
1) organise work of the COEC, be responsible for adequate performance by the COEC of its functions;
2) represent the COEC or authorize another member of the COEC or a civil servant of the Secretariat of the COEC to represent the COEC;
3) hold sittings or meetings of the COEC, preside over them or charge another member of the COEC to carry out this;
4) grant vacations to the members of COEC, send them on business trips;
5) approve the list of positions of the Secretariat of the COEC and the salaries of the employees without exceeding the salary rates set by legal acts;
6) employ in the Secretariat of the COEC the civil servants or persons working under the employment contract and dismiss them in accordance with the procedure laid down by legal acts;
7) approve the regulations of the Secretariat of the COEC and other documents regulating its activities;
8) adopt orders, other decisions.
2. The COEC shall resolve issues concerning vacations of the Chairperson of the COEC, his business trips, granting of a lump-sum additional pay.
 
Article 14. Grounds for dismissal of a member of the COEC
1. A member of the COEC may be dismissed or his powers shall terminate:
1) at his own request;
2) upon the expiration of the term of office, unless he is appointed for a new term of office;
3) upon his death;
4) when he does not work because of temporary incapacity for work more than 120 calendar days in succession or more than 140 days during the last 12 months, if laws do not provide that because of a specific disease his holding of office shall be preserved for a longer period of time;
5) upon coming into effect of a judgement of his conviction;
6) upon the motion of not less than 1/5 of the Seimas members.
2. In the cases laid down in subparagraphs 1 and 2 of paragraph 1 of this Article a member of the COEC shall hold office until a new member of the COEC is appointed to this office.
 
Article 15. Dismissal of a member of the COEC
1. A decision regarding dismissal of a member of the COEC (with the exception of the Chairperson of the COEC) on the grounds specified in subparagraphs 1-6 of paragraph 1 of Article 14 of this Law shall be taken by the Seimas by a simple majority of votes of the Seimas members attending the sitting, provided that more than half of the Seimas members attend the Seimas sitting.
2. A decision regarding dismissal of the Chairperson of the COEC on the grounds specified in subparagraphs 1-5 of paragraph 1 of Article 14 of this Law shall be taken by the Seimas by majority vote of more than half of all Seimas members, provided that more than half of the Seimas members attend the Seimas sitting, and on the grounds specified in subparagraph 6 of paragraph 1 of this Article shall be taken by majority vote of more than half of all Seimas members.
 
Article 16. Remuneration, social guarantees of the members of the COEC and guarantees after their dismissal
1. Salaries to the Chairperson and members of the COEC shall be paid in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Law on Law on Remuneration of State Politicians, Judges and State Officials.
2. The members of the COEC shall be insured with the state social insurance in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Law on the State Social Insurance.
3. The duration of annual vacations of the members of the COEC, the conditions of and procedure for granting them and paying for them shall be laid down by the Law on Civil Service. Social guarantees shall be granted to the members of the COEC in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Labour Code and other legal acts.
4. A member of the COEC who has been dismisses from work under subparagraph 2 and 4 of paragraph 1 of Article 14 of this Law shall be paid the severance pay in the amount of the average salary for two months and upon his death – his family members  (spouse, underage children (adopted children) until they reach the age of 18, as well as children (adopted children) who study in full-time secondary, vocational, post-secondary, higher education establishments registered in the prescribed manner until they reach the age of 24, children (adopted children) of the deceased person who are older than 18 years of age, provided that they were recognised as disabled (prior to 1 July 2005 – invalids) before they reached the age of 18, children of the deceased person who were born after his death, father (stepfather), mother (stepmother) shall be paid the compensation in the amount of the COEC member’s average salary for two months.
 
CHAPTER THREE
COMPETENCE OF THE CHIEF OFFICIAL ETHICS COMMISSION
 
Article 17. Powers of the COEC
The COEC shall:
1) supervise the implementation of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service, the Law on Lobbying Activities, other legal acts regulating the norms of official ethics and conduct of persons in the civil service assigned to the competence of the COEC, give recommendations on the improvement and implementation of the provisions of these legal acts, and take decisions and resolutions on these issues;
2) investigate notifications, complaints and requests of natural and legal persons regarding the conformity of activities of the persons in the civil service with the provisions of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service and take one of the decisions provided for in paragraph 1 of Article 29 of this Law;
3) investigate notifications, complaints and requests of natural and legal persons regarding the conformity of activities of natural or legal persons with the provisions of the Law on Lobbying Activities and take one of the decisions provided for in paragraph 1 of Article 29 of this Law;
4) carry out the investigation of the conduct of Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of parliamentary political parties who are not members of the Seimas or municipal councillors, or are not appointed as Member of the Government in accordance with the procedure set forth by the Code of Conduct for State politicians;
5) in accordance with the procedure laid down by legal acts may conduct investigation of the conformity of activities of the persons in the civil service with the provisions of other legal acts;
6) upon the request of entities of state politicians’ conduct control, state politicians or on its own initiative provide methodological assistance concerning the implementation of the provisions of the Code of Conduct for State Politicians;
7) follow information announced by the mass media about the conduct of state politicians and, in case there are sound data that a state politician has committed a violation, transfer this information for investigation to appropriate entities of state politicians’ conduct control;
8) analyse problems related to official ethics and conduct of persons in the civil service and give relevant recommendations;
9) on the basis of available information prepare and implement the measures preventing violations of the norms of official ethics and conduct, fulfil other functions laid down for the COEC in legal acts, and take appropriate decisions;
10) seeking to include the public as widely as possible in the democratic mechanisms of control over state government, inform periodically the public, state and municipal institutions about the meaning and importance for state government of the norms of official ethics and conduct of persons in the civil service and the legal acts regulating them;
11) inform the public about its activities in the website of the COEC. Decisions and resolutions of the COEC may be published in the official gazette Valstybės žinios and other publications of information character.
 
Article 18. The rights of the COEC
1. When carrying out its functions, the COEC shall be entitled to:
1) receive all necessary information, explanations, orders, decisions and other documents from state and municipal institutions, state and private capital enterprises, commercial banks, establishments and other organizations, persons working in the civil service and other persons, as well as obtain free of charge information from state or departmental registers, which is necessary for the fulfilment of the duties of the COEC;
2) instruct the head of a state or municipal institution or establishment to conduct investigation, if the reasoned information has been received that a person working in the civil service does not meet the requirements of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service or other legal acts, and, when disagreeing with the conclusion of the conducted investigation, instruct to conduct investigation repeatedly or conduct investigation itself and take a decision;
3) make reports of administrative violations of law and appeal to the court regarding imposition of administrative penalties on the persons who have committed the violations of the provisions of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service or the Law on Lobbying Activities;
4) propose to the collegiate state or municipal institution, the head of the state or municipal establishment, or the state or municipal institution or establishment of a higher subordination level to impose disciplinary penalties on the persons who have committed the violations of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service or the Law on Lobbying Activities;
5) propose to the collegiate state or municipal institution, the head of he state or municipal establishment or the state or municipal institution of a higher subordination level to repeal, suspend or amend the legal acts or decisions which do not meet the requirements of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service or the Law on Lobbying Activities, or propose to take the measures which would prevent violations of other legal acts in the future;
6) refer the material to a pre-trial investigation establishment or a prosecutor, when the elements of a criminal act have been determined, or propose to the prosecutor to appeal in accordance with the procedure laid down by law to the court regarding defence of the public interest;
7) file claims (submit requests) to the court regarding termination of or declaring null and void the employment contracts and transactions concluded in violation of the requirements of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service;
8) without substantially investigating a complaint which is not assigned to the competence of the COEC, may submit proposals or remarks to the appropriate institutions and establishments concerning the adherence by persons in the civil service to the norms of official ethics or conduct;
9) participate in preparation of legal acts regulating the requirements of official ethics and conduct of persons in the civil service;
10) obtain information from state or municipal institutions or establishments about violations of the norms of official ethics or conduct of persons in the civil service;
11) attend sittings of the ethics commissions set up by the municipal councils and present relevant proposals regarding the implementation of the norms of official ethics or conduct;
12) check the data on private interests declared by persons in the civil service and, if there are grounded suspicions concerning inaccuracy of the declared data, obtain free of charge the necessary information from state or departmental registers;
13) inspect activities of lobbyists and activity reports of lobbyists;
14) conduct investigation if there is grounded information that persons do not comply with the requirements of the Law on Lobbying Activities;
15) adopt resolutions of recommendatory character, which contain the opinion of the COEC on a certain issue or summarise the practice of activities of the COEC;
16) give recommendations of methodological character, which contain the opinion of the COEC on the issues of improvement and implementation of the norms of official ethics and conduct of persons in the civil service.
2. The COEC or its Chairperson may instruct the members of the COEC to look after the particular spheres of activities of the COEC.
 
Article 19. Activity report of the COEC
1. The COEC shall, before the 1st of March of each year, present to the Seimas a written activity report for the last calendar year.
2. An activity report of the COEC shall be announced in the webpage of the COEC.
 
CHAPTER FOUR
RECEPTION AND INVESTIGATION OF NOTIFICATIONS,
COMPLAINTS OR REQUESTS, ADOPTION OF DECISIONS OF
THE CHIEF OFFICIAL ETHICS COMMISSION
 
Article 20. Notifications investigated by the COEC
The COEC shall investigate notifications and complaints (hereinafter referred to as “notifications”) about the compliance of acts of persons with the requirements of legal acts specified in subparagraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 of paragraph 1 of Article 17 of this Law, with the exception of notifications about activities of state and municipal institutions (as collegiate institutions), legality and validity of decisions of prosecutors or officers of pre-trial investigation. The COEC shall not investigate validity and legality of decisions, judgments, rulings and verdicts passed by courts.
 
Article 21. Filing of notifications
1. Generally, notifications shall be filed in written form. If a notification is received orally, by telephone, e-mail or any other way, the COEC may, upon receipt of the reasoned information about the violation, begin investigation on its own initiative by a reasoned decision.
2. If the mass media presents information about possible violations which are assigned to the COEC’s competence to investigate and upon receipt of the reasoned information about the violation, the COEC may, by a reasoned decision, begin investigation on its own initiative.
3. Written or oral notifications of applicants, which do not notify about possible violations, bet request explanation, provision of other information or desirable documents shall be regarded as requests.
 
Article 22. Requirements for a notification
1. Generally, a notification shall indicate:
1) the addressee – the Chief Official Ethics Commission;
2) the name, surname of the applicant (business name of the legal person) and the address (head office);
3) the names, surnames and positions of the persons about whom a complaint is filed, as well as the institution or agency in which they work;
4) the type of the act about which a complaint is filed, the time and circumstances of the perpetration thereof;
5) a specified request for the COEC;
6) the date of making the notification, signature of the applicant and the contact details.
2. A notification may be accompanied by the available evidence, documents, explanations or any other information, which, in the opinion of the applicant, is of importance for investigation.
3. Failure to adhere to the form of a notification specified in paragraph 1 of this Article or failure to indicate the particulars shall not be the grounds for refusal to investigate the notification, with the exception of the cases referred to in paragraph 5 of Article 24 of this Law.
 
Article 23. Time limit for submitting notifications
1. A time limit of three years from the perpetration of an act allegedly violating legal acts shall be set for filing notifications.
2. Notifications filed after the expiration of the time limit referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article may be investigated in the cases when:
1) a request of the President of the republic, the Speaker of the Seimas or the Prime Minister has been received to conduct investigation;
2) a proposal of a Seimas committee or commission, or one-fifth of the Seimas members has been received to conduct investigation;
3) a request of the Office of the Prosecutor General or the Special Investigation Service to conduct investigation;
4) a reasoned decision of the COEC has been taken to conduct investigation.
 
Article 24. Refusal to examine a notification
1. The COEC shall not later than within five working days from receipt of a notification inform the applicant of its refusal to examine the notification, if:
1) the notification has been submitted after the expiration of the time limit set in Article 23 of this Law;
2) investigation of the circumstances identified in the notification does not fall within the competence of the COEC;
3) the notification on the same issue has already been examined.
2. In the cases when the notification is not assigned to the competence of the COEC, the refusal to examine the notification shall indicate the state or municipal institution or establishment, which the applicant may address in relation to that issue.
3. Upon investigation of the notification, a repeatedly submitted notification shall not be investigated, with the exception of the cases when new circumstances are identified or new facts supplied.
4. If in the course of investigation of the notification the circumstances specified in paragraph 1 of this Article emerge, the investigation shall be terminated.
5. If an applicant fails to submit the information without which it is impossible to begin investigation of the notification, as well as if the text of the notification is illegible, the notification shall not be investigated.
 
Article 25. Referral for examination of notifications, which are assigned to the competence of the COEC to other state or municipal institutions or establishments
1. The COEC may refer for investigation a received notification to the head of the state or municipal institution or establishment which employs the person about whom a complaint has been filed or to a collegiate state or municipal institution.
2. The head of the state or municipal institution or establishment, or the collegiate state or municipal institution must within one calendar month from receipt of the notification inform the COEC about the results of the conducted investigation by presenting the conclusion of the investigation and all the documents substantiating it.
3. The COEC shall examine the received investigation documents and inform the applicant of this.
4. If the COEC disagrees with the conclusion of the investigation conducted at the state or municipal institution or establishment, it shall have the right to instruct it to conduct investigation repeatedly or to conduct investigation itself and take a decision.
 
Article 26. Time limits for investigating notifications
1. A notification must be investigated and an applicant must receive a reply within three months from receipt of the notification.
2. The COEC may extend the time limit specified in paragraph 1 of this Article up to six months due to the complexity of the circumstances indicated in the notification, abundance of information or a continuous type of the actions about which a complaint has been filed. An applicant shall be informed in writing about the extension of the time limit for investigating the notification.
3. Legal acts may set other time limits for investigating notifications.
 
Article 27. Obligation of the requirements of the COEC
1. At the instance of the COEC legal or natural persons must immediately or not later than until the end of the time limit indicated by the COEC submit information necessary for performance of the duties of the COEC.
2. When examining a notification, the COEC shall enjoy the right to address the person whose act is under investigation, requesting to submit within the time limit indicated by the COEC a written explanation and, when possible, the documents substantiating it.
3. A recommendation given by the COEC must be examined by the state or municipal institution or establishment for whom the recommendation is given and the COEC must be informed about the results of the examination within one calendar month from receipt of the recommendation.
4. Persons who hinder the COEC from performing its functions shall be held liable in accordance with the procedure laid down by law.
 
Article 28. Investigation of notifications and adoption of decisions
1. Investigation shall begin on instruction of the Chairperson of the COEC or a member of the COEC who deputizes for him or by the decision of the COEC. The applicant, the person whose act is under investigation and the head of the state or municipal institution at which he works shall be informed in writing about the beginning of the investigation within 5 working days from the receipt of the notification.
2. If it comes out during the investigation of the notification that two or more notifications from different applicants concerning the act of the same person have been received, the COEC may integrate the notifications into single investigation.
3. The person whose act is under investigation shall have the right to get access to the documents received by the COEC, to present explanations to it. The person shall be notified of the venue and time of a sitting of the COEC in which his act shall be examined. The person shall have the right to attend the sitting of the COEC in which his notification shall be examined.
4. The COEC shall investigate the circumstances indicated in the notification and the information obtained additionally during the investigation, and take a decision. The decision shall specify the circumstances ascertained during the investigation, the gathered evidence and legal evaluation of the person’s act.
5. A decision shall be taken by the COEC by the majority of votes of at least three members of the COEC. The Chairperson of the COEC shall sign the decision.
 
Article 29. Decisions of the COEC
1. Upon completion of the investigation, the COEC shall take a reasoned decision:
1) to certify that a person has violated the provisions of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service, the Code of Conduct for State Politicians or any other legal act regulating the norms of official ethics and conduct;
2) to certify that a person has violated the provisions of the Law on Lobbying Activities;
3) to appeal to the court for imposition of a administrative penalty on the offender;
4) to propose to the head of a state or municipal institution (or a collegiate institution) to impose (disciplinary) penalty on the offender;
5) to certify that certify that a person has not violated the provisions of the Law on the Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Civil Service, the Code of Conduct for State Politicians or any other legal act regulating the norms of official ethics and conduct;
6) to certify that a person has not violated the provisions of the Law on Lobbying Activities or other legal acts;
7) to suspend the investigation;
8) to terminate the investigation;
9) to submit the material gathered in the course of the investigation to a pre-trial investigation institution or prosecutor’s office, or to any other authorised institution;
10) to submit a recommendation.
2. The decision to suspend the investigation, referred to in subparagraph 7 of paragraph 1 of this Article, shall be taken:
1) until other authorised institutions or establishments complete the actions related to the act of the person about whom a complaint has been filed;
2) if the person whose notification or the actions of whom have been complained about are under investigation, is ill or has departed, and a decision cannot be taken without his participation.
3. The decision to terminate the investigation, referred to in subparagraph 8 of paragraph 1 of this Article, shall be taken:
1) in the presence of the circumstances referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 24 of this Law;
2) in the absence of sufficient information necessary for legal evaluation of the person’s act.
4. When the information referred to subparagraph 2 of paragraph 3 of this Article comes to light, the COEC may resume investigation.
 
Article 30. Appeal against the decisions
The decisions of the COEC may be appealed against to Vilnius Regional Administrative Court within one month from the announcement of the decision or its delivery to the person concerned.
 
CHAPTER FIVE
FINAL PROVISIONS
 
Article 31. Entry into force of the Law
This Law shall enter into force after one calendar month following its publication in the official gazette Valstybės žinios.