Tackling white-collar crime: report’s main recommendations

Law Reform Commission report focuses on regulatory powers and corporate offences

Serious corporate crime should continue to be dealt with in the Circuit Criminal Court, the Law Reform Commission report says. Photograph: Altrendo/Getty Images

Serious corporate crime should continue to be dealt with in the Circuit Criminal Court, the Law Reform Commission report says. Photograph: Altrendo/Getty Images

 

A new, properly-resourced corporate crime agency should be established which should work closely with a new dedicated white-collar crime unit in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

This is one of the chief recommendations in a major report from the Law Reform Commission on regulatory powers and corporate offences.

Regulators should be able to impose significant financial fines and make regulatory enforcement agreements, including consumer redress schemes, it also recommends. These powers are already held by the Central Bank but should be extended to regulators in such areas as competition law, communications and health products.

Changes to how the law seeks to hold companies responsible for criminal offences are needed so that the law can take account of how modern businesses are structured. This might see companies being found guilty of such crimes as theft, fraud, and bribery, something which does not happen now.

Reckless risk-taking

The fraud law might be extended to include reckless risk-taking, which might be made a criminal offence under, for example, the false accounting rules. However, a new offence of trading recklessly should not be introduced in case it has a chilling effect on entrepreneurial risk-taking.

The report also recommends that deferred prosecution agreements, which involve suspended prosecutions for companies with strict conditions, should be introduced under the control of the DPP and supervised by the High Court. They should not be available to company executives.

A regulatory guidance office should be set up to provide guidance and information to regulators, including on international best practice.

Serious corporate crime should continue to be dealt with in the Circuit Criminal Court, which has shown itself fully capable of dealing with complex corporate trials.