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Specific offences and restrictions
What are the key corruption and bribery offences in your jurisdiction?
The key statutory corruption and bribery offences are set out in the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, as amended.
The 1889 act is specifically concerned with bribery involving public officials. More broadly, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 is concerned with bribery involving an ‘agent’, which it defines to include any person acting for or on behalf of another. It therefore covers both the bribery of public officials and bribery in the private sphere.
Under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, it is an offence:
- for an agent or any other person to corruptly accept or obtain, or agree to accept or attempt to obtain, for himself or herself, or for any other person, any gift, consideration or advantage as an inducement to, or reward for, or otherwise on account of, the agent doing any act or making any omission in relation to his or her office or position or his or her principal’s affairs or business; or
- for any person to corruptly give, agree to give or offer any gift, consideration or advantage to an agent or any other person as an inducement to, or reward for, or otherwise on account of, the agent doing any act or making any omission in relation to his or her office or position or his or her principal's affairs or business.
The 1906 act defines the term ‘corruptly’ to include “acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another person, whether by means of making a false or misleading statement, by means of withholding, concealing, altering or destroying a document or by any other means”.
The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 establishes the offences of active and passive corruption respectively pursuant to the First Protocol to the EU Convention on the European Communities’ Financial Interests. These offences apply to corruption involving EU officials or officials of EU member states that is likely to damage the European Union’s financial interests.
Are specific restrictions in place regarding the provision of hospitality (eg, gifts, travel expenses, meals and entertainment)? If so, what are the details?
Irish law criminalises gifts and other advantages given for corrupt purposes. It appears that any pecuniary benefit, no matter how small, is capable of constituting a bribe, including travel expenses, meals and entertainment, as long as it is given with the required intent. The Prevention of Corruption Acts provide for a presumption of corruption in respect of any money, gift or other consideration paid, given to or received by a public official by a person holding or seeking to obtain a government contract.
Under Irish law, it is also an offence for a public official to commit any act in relation to his or her office or position for the purpose of corruptly obtaining an advantage for himself or any other person.
The Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 require both members of Parliament and ‘officeholders’ to disclose certain ‘registrable interests’ on an annual basis. These include gifts in excess of €650 and certain travel facilities, living accommodation, meals and entertainment supplied outside of Ireland and in excess of €650. Similar rules apply at local government level under Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001. The 2001 act also prohibits a local authority member or employee from seeking, exacting or accepting from any person, other than the local authority concerned, any remuneration, fee, reward or other favour for anything done or not done by virtue of his or her employment or office.
What are the rules relating to facilitation payments?
No distinct rules govern facilitation payments under Irish law; where such payments are made or received corruptly to a public official or an agent with the purpose of influencing the performance of his or her duties, they are likely to be considered as bribes. Where a payment is of small value, this may suggest that it is not intended to be a bribe; however, even small payments may be bribes if intended to influence an agent’s behaviour.
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