Risks of the corrupt nature crimes in lobbying activities
Keywords:Lobbying, trading in influence, graft, bribe
One of the most important principles of a democratic state is the possibility for the public to participate in the state’s governance by expressing opinions and proposing arguments for the adoption of concrete political decisions. This right is established in Article 33 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. This paper discusses the lobbying activities on the basis when interested parties participate in state governance, by influencing public authorities to act in a way that is beneficial to those interested parties. The lobbying activities, as a mean of participation in public life by influencing the legislative process, might be done in a variety of ways and methods. However, in academic discourse, lobbying is closely linked to criminal offences of a corrupt nature, namely the most often associated with trading in influence or graft.
This paper analyses the boundary where lobbying become illegal and what criteria should be followed to distinguish lobbying from trading in influence or graft. The article presents the concept of lobbying and problems of lobbying regulation that bring lobbying closer to corruption. Also, American and European lobbying models are presented in a comparative approach. Both models of lobbying are compared to Lithuania’s lobbying model by separately highlighting the lobbying activities’ advantages and disadvantages in different legal contexts. Finally, the risks of trading in influence and graft related to lobbying are analysed. The article provides an analysis in details of regulation and case-law on trading in influence and graft crimes composition, and the above-mentioned crime norms feature relevant to assessing the similarity of lobbying to corruption. The focus is placed on the analysis of the concept of bribe, as it is a key element that brings lobbying closer to corruption. The paper answers whether it is possible to separate lobbying from corruption and presents the possibilities of separation of the above-mentioned activities.
The study showed that the current Lithuanian legal regulation of lobbying does not effectively distinguish lobbying from trading in influence and graft and must be improved. The comparison of the above-mentioned activities, their similarities and differences showed that the current Republic of Lithuania Law on Lobbying activities lacks strict and precise rules that should provide specific guidelines for successful lobbying activity and allows the use of various methods that usually lack transparency, integrity and equality. Consequently, in order to prevent crimes of a corrupt nature in legitimate lobbying activities, the existing regulation of lobbying needs to be improved.
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