Prosecution deals urged to uncover white collar crime
LEGISLATIVE CHANGES should be introduced to allow companies to report previously undetected corruption-related offences in their organisation in return for prosecutions being waived or delayed, according to a report to be published this week.
Anti-corruption agency Transparency International Ireland has said that “deferred prosecution agreements” against individuals and companies could encourage the self-reporting of white collar criminal offences.
The report, the National Integrity Systems country report on Ireland 2012 to be published on Thursday, recommends a review of the resources and working practices of all agencies which are dealing with corruption and white collar crime.
The review should aim to improve intelligence-gathering and co-operation between the agencies fighting white collar crime, and to identify areas where further resources should be directed.
The Transparency International report, an update on a 2009 report on Ireland, also recommends raising awareness on the risks and costs associated with corruption and measures to prevent it.
This includes ethics training and advice for public officials, including elected representatives.
The report by the non-government agency, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, recommends continuous research on the effectiveness of existing anti-corruption measures.
Deferred prosecution agreements, where companies report offences to avoid prosecution, has been used extensively in the United States to conclude fraud and corruption investigations. They are also being planned in Britain.
Under the agreements prosecutors take but do not immediately proceed with criminal charges against a company if those businesses comply with requirements, such as penalties, reparations for victims or confiscation of profits of wrongdoing.
The Criminal Justice Act 2011 makes it an offence not to disclose information which you know or believe might be of assistance to prevent certain crimes, including white collar crime offences.
However, an Irish company is not at present rewarded – or the charges reduced – if they are compelled to report to the authorities a possible crime committed by one of their directors which has been disclosed to the company by a whistleblower employee.
Deferred prosecution agreements were one of a range of measures recommended by the office of the director of corporate enforcement in a submission to the government on fighting white-collar crime in 2010.