Influence peddling, organized crime, and petty corruption marred Lithuania’s post-Soviet transition to democracy. Concerned that those problems were jeopardizing the country’s efforts to join NATO and the European Union, the government created in 1997 an elite law enforcement unit within the Ministry of the Interior to combat corruption, called the Special Investigation Service (Specialiuju tyrimu tarnyba, or STT). Director Juozas Gaudutis rapidly built the early agency’s capacity. His successor, Valentinas Junokas, helped the STT establish independence and broaden its mandate to perform corruption prevention activities and oversee education, thereby creating Europe’s first multifunctional anti-corruption agency. But Junokas resigned under political pressure after STT agents executed a controversial search of political party offices and investigated multiple legislators for graft just before the 2004 elections. The STT’s new director, Povilas Malakauskas, patched relations with parliament and recalibrated the STT’s strategy to emphasize preventive and educational measures—“changing the rules of the game” and “changing values,” he said. As the STT entered its second decade, its agents investigated hundreds of cases annually but faced difficulties in enlisting a wary public in a long-term war against corruption.
Gabriel Kuris drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Vilnius, Lithuania, in May and June 2012. Case published November 2012
Countering Criminal Economies
Building inter-agency cooperation
Investigation or referral
Organization and staffing
Institutional traps (spoilers)
Country of Reform: