New law will presume donation is corrupt if not disclosed
Severe penalties and corporate liability for companies connected to corrupt individuals
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan (pictured at the GRA conference in Wexford) described the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill as a ‘robust piece of legislation with very strong penalties’. Photograph: Karen Morgan
Anti-corruption legislation which includes recommendations from a tribunal which investigated bribes to politicians has been passed by the Seanad.
The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill, which had previously been passed by the Dáil, introduces new offences and tough penalties for corruption.
The legislation also gives effect to six recommendations from the Mahon tribunal which investigated alleged bribery of politicians in return for planning rezoning favours.
These include a new offence of giving a gift, consideration or advantage knowing that it will be used to commit corruption. It also presumes a donation to be corrupt where it is not disclosed, or returned in certain circumstances.
And it provides for an unlimited for companies where an individual connected with the company is found guilty of corruption.
The Bill repeals and replaces seven previous anti-corruption Acts and provides for the seizure of bribes.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan described the Bill as a “robust piece of legislation with very strong penalties”.
He said that “for conviction on indictment the penalties for most offences are imprisonment for up to ten years, an unlimited fine, forfeiture of any bribe, possible forfeiture of office for public servants and elected officials and possible prohibition on seeking public office for up to ten years”.
The Minister said the legislation “represents a complete modernisation of our anti-corruption laws. It repeals Acts dating as far back as the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889. Providing one modern statute will make the law more accessible.
“It introduces new offences for the first time such as trading in influence and a corporate liability offence whereby a body corporate may be guilty of an offence if anyone acting on behalf of that body is found guilty of a corruption offence.”
The Minister added that the Bill included many recommendations made to the State by the OECD, the EU, the Council of Europe and the United Nations monitoring bodies.
Mr Flanagan added: “In the past, corruption was often viewed as an issue of individual morality or lack of it. In more recent decades, it has been viewed as representing a systemic failure for a company, an economy or for a nation state.
“The European Commission estimates that corruption amounts to 5 per cent of global GDP. Having strong anti-corruption laws in place is essential to tackle this deep-rooted problem.”
The Bill now goes to the President for consideration.