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Finland: Stricter Bribery Provisions for MPs

(June 24, 2010) It was reported on June 10, 2010, that the Finnish government has proposed an amendment to Finland's Criminal Code that would unify the bribery provisions applicable to MPs and civil servants. At present MPs are not subject, for example, to punishment for the offense of aggravated acts of bribery. (Law on Bribery of Members of Parliament Becoming Stricter, HS.FI [in Finnish] (June 10, 2010), Open Source Center No. EUP20100611203005; Ministry of Justice, Finland, The Criminal Code of Finland (39/1889, Amendments up to 940/2008 included) [unofficial translation], (last visited June 23, 2010).)

Under the current Criminal Code provisions, aggravated acts of giving and taking bribes involving public officials incur a minimum prison term of four months and a maximum term of four years (Ch. 16, art. 14). This provision would be made applicable to MPs under the amendment; ordinary bribery offenses would still incur a fine. Those convicted of giving bribes to an MP under the Criminal Code are subject to a fine or to a maximum four-year term of imprisonment (Ch. 16, art. 14a). (The Criminal Code of Finland, supra.)

The proposed amendment provides that an MP may be sentenced for taking bribes without having promised the giver to act a certain way in Parliament. Bribery would be punishable “if it clearly undermines trust in the independence of the member of parliament,” and if bribery rules were circumvented by the donation of campaign money, that money would be deemed a bribe. (HS.FI, supra.) However, MPs would retain the privilege of being able to attend for free ordinary sports and cultural events. (Id.)

It may be noted that the Finnish Broadcasting Company reported on May 5, 2010, that a Finnish businessman, Toivo Sukari, who is a “prominent political campaign financer,” is suspected by the police of having given a bribe to MP Ilkka Kanerva, in the form of election campaign funds and “birthday sponsorship.” The suspected purpose of these contributions was to influence zoning plans in southwestern Finland; Sukari has denied the allegations. Two other businessmen are also suspected by the police of attempts to bribe Kanerva. (Police Suspect Toivo Sukari of Bribing Finnish MP – YLE, HELSINKI TIMES (May 6, 2010),