Reforms in the government structure launched after restoration of Lithuania’s Independence in 1990 highlighted the problem of corruption in state and municipal institutions. A number of law enforcement institutions were involved in the fight against this criminal practice but there was no central body to undertake coordination of the investigation of corruption-related offences.
A growing number of instances of abuse of office and corruption captured the attention of the legislative and executive branch; added to this, foreign investors, European Union institutions and international organisations became concerned about this dangerous trend.
Having evaluated the threat posed by corruption to the social and economic development of the state and in implementing the 1997–2000 Government Programme and Government Resolution of 15 March 1996 On the Adoption of Measures for Improving the Control and Prevention of Corruption-Related Offences and in view of international commitments (The Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime was brought into effect in 1995), in 1997 the Government decided to establish a separate institution tasked to fight against corruption.
By Government Resolution No. 135 of 18 February 1997 On the Establishment of the Special Investigation Service under the Ministry of the Interior, the newly established law enforcement institution was entrusted with the functions to fight against corruption and offences against the civil service.
The main task entrusted to the Special Investigation Service (further – STT) was to reduce exposure of the state to corruption. With a view to ensuring successful activities, STT primarily undertook to get together a team of qualified professionals. The original employees of STT, being persons with experience of work in other law enforcement institutions and young specialists with a degree in law, improved their capabilities to combat corruption both in Lithuania and abroad with the assistance from foreign experts.
STT expanded its operations all over Lithuania. In 1997, STT field offices (currently departments) were established in Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panavėžys.
Until May 2000 STT was an institution subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior.
Although at the outset of its activity STT initiated quite a number of proceedings in connection with corruption-related offences, it seemed apparent that law enforcement efforts consisting in detecting and investigating isolated offences were insufficient; it was necessary to analyse and investigate the system of public administration so that it does not provide opportunities for corrupt practices, i.e. to preclude the possibility of corruption.
The analysis of anti-corruption activities was followed by a decision to expand STT functions and entrust the Service with the development and implementation of corruption prevention measures. Moreover, the Service was severed from the Ministry of the Interior in order to ensure impartiality of STT activities and accord it the status of an independent institution.
On 2 May 2000, with the adoption of the Law on the Special Investigation Service by the Seimas, STT became an institution independent from the executive branch, accountable to the President and the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, engaged in the detection and investigation of corruption-related offences and developing and implementing corruption prevention measures.
On 28 May 2002, the Seimas adopted the Law on Corruption Prevention, a legal act drafted on the initiative of STT, to enable a more efficient fight against corruption. This legal act established new measures for identifying and removing the causes and opportunities for corruption, including corruption risk analysis, anti-corruption assessment of legislation and draft legislation, and anti-corruption education and awareness raising of the public.
In July 2002, STT established the Department of Corruption Prevention and delegated to it anti-corruption assessment of legislation, monitoring the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Programme measures, preparation of methodologies for the assessment of the probability of corruption, the analysis of opportunities for corruption and anti-corruption education and awareness raising of the public.
STT specialists determine whether or not the administration systems of individual agencies create opportunities for corruption and abuse of office, provide reasoned conclusions and proposals and carry out anti-corruption assessment of legislation that is particularly prone to corruption and present conclusions as to how it may be improved.
STT continually enhances cooperation with the public. The Administrative Procedures Unit (currently – the Complaints Division), which was established in November 2002, receives visitors at STT, examines requests and complaints received directly from the individual or sent in by mail, as well as queries from various institutions.
A further significant line of STT activity is anti-corruption education of the public having the principal purpose to convince the public that the benefits of corruption are but temporary, while its negative consequences persist for a very long time.
STT encourages all members of the population to engage in an active fight against corruption by reporting any negative developments in the civil service that come to their notice and by refraining from acting in such a manner as to induce corruption.
STT takes the initiative and makes every effort to achieve that Lithuania is ranked among countries with low levels of corruption.