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Anti-corruption In Azerbaijan

1. Bribery in the home (private to public)

1.1 The Legal Environment

The Anti-Corruption Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan, enacted on January 13, 2004 (the “Anti-Corruption Law”), and the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, enacted on September 1, 2000 (the “Criminal Code”), are the main laws in Azerbaijan aimed at preventing and detecting corruption-related offenses.

The government of Azerbaijan has passed new legislation aimed at combatting corruption and improving the legal environment. The National Strategy for Increasing Transparency and Combating Corruption, announced by Presidential Decree on July 28, 2007, is an example of Azerbaijani anti-corruption legislation’s growth.

Corruption is defined as the illegal acquisition of material and other benefits, privileges, and advantages by officials through the use of their position, the status of the body they represent, their official powers, or the opportunities derived from those statuses and powers, according to the Anti-Corruption Law. Corruption also involves the criminal offering, promising, or granting of material and other rewards, privileges, and advantages to such authorities by individuals or corporations.

The Anti-Corruption Law defines what constitutes corruption as well as what constitutes behaviors that lead to corruption (literally, “provide grounds for corruption”). Other aspects of the Anti-Corruption Law are governed by it, such as when an official is allowed to take gifts, financial disclosure by officials, and so on.

Bribery, both active and passive, is illegal in Azerbaijan. Offering a benefit to executives of commercial companies or their acceptance of a benefit in exchange for the performance or non-performance of official obligations may constitute active or passive bribery under Azerbaijani law.

Furthermore, the Law on Ethical Standards of Public Officials (the “Ethical Standards Law”), enacted on May 31, 2007, is a measure aimed at establishing ethical and moral principles of conduct for public officials. Government personnel must be unbiased and uphold the rule of law, according to the Ethical Standards Law. Furthermore, the Ethical Standards Law prohibits officials from accepting any undue or unlawful benefit or advantage, with the exception of gifts of legal value and those that may be construed as simple expressions of hospitality, as long as the gifts or hospitality do not compromise their impartiality.

1.2 What does bribery mean?

The solicitation or acceptance, directly or indirectly, by a public official of a material or other benefit, privilege, or undue advantage for himself or others in exchange for acting or refraining from acting, or providing patronage when executing official duties is defined by the Criminal Code.

The Criminal Code defines “active bribery” as a promise, guarantee, or gift of a material or other benefit, privilege, or undue advantage to a public official for himself or others, directly or indirectly, in exchange for acting or refraining from acting when exercising official duties.

1.3 What does it mean to be a public official?

Individuals who potentially be “subjects” of corruption violations, such as public officials, are included in the Anti-Corruption Law. Section 2 of the Anti-Corruption Law, in particular, lists the following sorts of public officials:

  • Azerbaijani citizens who are elected or appointed to government positions in accordance with the Azerbaijani Constitution or laws

  • Persons who represent state bodies with exceptional powers

  • Those who work in administrative roles are civil servants.

  • Persons in management or administrative roles in government agencies, government entities, and other commercial legal entities in which the government holds a majority of the shares

  • Candidates for elected government seats have registered.

  • Individuals who have been elected to a municipal government

  • Persons in positions of management and administration in a local government

  • Any person in a non-state entity who performs official obligations allocated by the state in a managerial or administrative capacity.

  • Although the Criminal Code reaffirms the individuals named in Section 2 of the Anti-Corruption Law, it also adds the following to the list of public officials:

  • Several military personnel

  • Candidates for elected government seats have registered.

  • Members of municipal governments and municipal employees

  • Managers and persons in managerial or administrative roles in state and municipal companies, institutes, and organizations, as well as other commercial and non-commercial organizations, who are based on specific authorities

  • Individuals who conduct business without forming a legal body

  • Members of foreign elected state bodies; executives and other servants of international organizations; and members of international legislative groups

  • International court judges and other officials; foreign and local arbitrators of arbitration tribunals; and foreign jury members

  • State and municipal enterprise managers and workers; institutes and organizations; and other commercial and non-commercial entities

1.4 Bribery’s Consequences

(a) For the Individuals Involved

  • For passive (accepting) bribes, disqualification for up to three years is possible.

  • Individual fines of up to AZN 4,000 (approximately USD 2,100)

  • Fines can only be imposed for active bribery, and they can be used instead of jail.

Liability is aggravated by the following factors:

  • Officials committing criminal conduct in exchange for a bribe

  • The bribe is a type of bribe.

  • A criminal act carried out by a group of people as part of a preliminary conspiracy, or by “an organized group, or in conjunction with extortion.”

(b) For the corporation/legal entity

Legal entities are not currently covered by Azerbaijani criminal law. Despite the fact that articles addressing corporate criminal liability have been created and included into the Criminal Code, they have yet to take effect. As a result, certain modifications to the Criminal Code envision legal entities being held liable for bribery (both active and passive) done for the benefit of or in the interests of the legal entity.

Fines, prohibitions on specific operations, and dissolution and special seizure are among options available to legal bodies. Legal persons may also be penalized if they are found guilty of corruption, according to Section 11.2 of the Anti-Corruption Law.

1.5 Contributions from politics

The Law on Political Parties, enacted on June 3, 1992, governs contributions to political parties. Individuals who did not disclose or identify the details of their identity cards; foreigners; local and foreign legal firms; and foreign states are all prohibited from funding political parties, even through donations.

1.6 Hospitality expenses are subject to a limit (gifts, travel, meals, entertainment, among others)

Azerbaijani legislation allows public officials to accept small presents and basic acts of kindness (or hospitality). Within a year, the value of such presents cannot exceed AZN 55 (about USD 30).

Any gift in excess of that amount is the property of the agency that employs the official.

Acts of simple civility are not defined by law (or hospitality). People who offer such civility or hospitality should determine if their actions are reasonable and do not jeopardize the official’s neutrality.

In terms of covering meals and travel expenditures, public officials may only visit foreign countries at the expense of those nations with the consent of higher officials of the state bodies in which they serve, according to Section 20.1.5 of the Law on State Service, dated July 21, 2000. A “secondment” is when a government employee travels abroad in his or her role as a public official to attend an event or function. Azerbaijani government institutions may second their personnel at their own expense or at the expense of a hosting party, according to Minister of Finance Order No. Q-01 on the Rules of Employee Secondment, issued 18 January 2012.

In the context of the Anti-Corruption Law, secondment charges may include appropriate travel, meal, and lodging expenditures and should not be handled separately from ordinary courtesies. Daily allowances granted by Resolution No. 14 of the Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers, On Approval of the Rates of Travel Allowances, dated January 25, 2008, may assist in determining the fairness of secondment charges.