Eight in ten persons convicted of corruption do not spend any time in jail, study

Sixteen years was the longest jail term given in a case of corruption, while the heaviest fine in such a case was 290,000 lei. At the same time, eight in ten persons convicted of corruption do not spend any time in jail. The police officers top the rankings of persons convicted of corruption, shows an analysis conducted by the Legal Resources Center from Moldova. The study covers over 400 judgments passed by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) in cases of corruption between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2020, IPN reports.

The Center’s head Vladislav Gribincea said a criminal case in Moldova is examined for 325 days on average at the three jurisdiction levels. In corruption cases, the length is of 3.5 years, which is four times longer. Even if the cases of corruption are more complex, this difference generates questions.

An overwhelming part (93%) of the examined cases of corruption (of SCJ decisions) refer to petty corruption, judging by the extent of the caused damage and of bribe and by the subject of the corruption case. 7% of the cases refer to grand corruption. Among the cases that reached the SCJ is the case of corrupting MPs by offering them US$250,000 bribe.

Among the perpetrators are 140 police officers, 91 private individuals, 32 local councilors, 24 mayors, 19 lawyers, 19 accountants, etc. “These are probably greater in number. They more often come into contact with persons who are in sensitive situations and are predisposed to solve their problems. This does not mean that in other areas corruption is not higher,” explained Vladislav Gribincea.

40% of the cases of corruption reach the SCJ. “This can be primarily due to the fact that the subjects are particular and these persons can hire a more experienced lawyer, have more convincing arguments, etc. We must admit that 40% of the cases of corruption reach the SCJ and this coefficient is on average twice higher than the average per system,” said the head of the Legal Resources Center.

He noted that half of the judgments passed by the ordinary courts were quashed as a result of appeals. If 50% of the sentences are overturned, the appeals court will be overloaded. Also, each second case of corruption is retried.

The study does not recommend making the punishment for corruption harsher. This does not mean that collateral penalties should not be applied, such as extended confiscation. The analysis authors consider sufficient financial resources should be allocated for fighting grand corruption. The frequent suspension of the prison sentence should be examined. The experts believe a shorter jail term has a more discouraging effect than a longer suspended sentence.

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