Corruption: tackling white collar crime

General scheme of the legislation was first published as far back as 2012

 

The Government’s plan to introduce a major piece of legislation to update the law on bribery and corruption is welcome although this reform has been promised before.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has given his Cabinet colleagues an outline of the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill. He has told them that some of the key provisions will include the creation of new offences dealing with “trading influence”, use of confidential information and knowingly or recklessly making a payment that would facilitate an offence of corruption.

He suggests the Bill will go a long way towards meeting Ireland’s obligations under a number of international anti-corruption instruments and will also address recommendations made by the planning tribunal. It will be part of a broader, cross-Government package to tackle corruption and “white-collar” type crime but is still subject to final and technical amendments.

The Minister’s announcement is a positive step but until the Bill is published, it will not be possible to give a definitive verdict on whether it goes far enough.

The general scheme of the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill was first published by the last government as far back as 2012 but its progress through the Oireachtas stalled and it died with the 31st Dáil. It re-emerged on the Government’s legislative programme last autumn and now appears to be on the point of publication in an updated form.

The Bill will have significant and far-reaching implications not just for politicians but also for all citizens. If it follows the broad lines of the 2012 draft, Irish citizens would be liable for prosecution for acts carried out at home or abroad that fall foul of the legislation.

It is intended to bring Ireland into line with international best standards for combating bribery and corruption. The 2012 version of the Bill was welcomed by Transparency International and the OECD and it is to be hoped that the key features will be retained, and that its provisions are not watered down in the final draft.

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