In early November 2017, the Irish Government published the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017 (“the Bill”). The Minister for Justice and Equality introduced the Bill following the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2014, the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. Not only was this Bill intended to assist Ireland with its international commitments, the Bill was the next step for the Government in an effort to legislate for white collar crime and to provide for some of the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.
The purpose of the Bill is to completely modernise Irish anti-corruption laws and make them more accessible to the general public. Once enacted the Bill will repeal and replace the seven previous Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 2010. In this regard it is important to be aware that the Bill does not simply consolidate the old law, the Bill is a robust and innovative piece of legislation that provides for a number of new offences as well as stronger penalties for those convicted of corruption.
Some of the key aspects of the Bill are as follows:
- New offences of active and passive trading in influence as recommended by GRECO, the Council of Europe anti-corruption body.
- New offence for an Irish official carrying out a corrupt act in relation to his or her office as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal.
- New offence of giving a gift, consideration or advantage knowing that it will be used to commit a corruption offence as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal.
- New offences for creating or using false documents are required by most International Conventions.
- New offence of intimidation where a threat of harm is used instead of a bribe.
- The presumption of corrupt gifts extended to connected persons as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal.
- The presumption of a corrupt donation expanded which makes failure to disclose or return a donation grounds for the presumption to apply as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal.
- New provisions for forfeiture of public office and for prohibition from seeking public office for up to ten years for Irish Officials.
- New strict liability offence for bodies corporate where any individual connected with the company has been found guilty of corruption. The penalty for the company can be an unlimited fine. This has been recommended by the OECD and by the Mahon Tribunal.
- Provisions for seizure and forfeiture of bribes.
On 30 May 2018, the Minister for Justice and Equality announced that the Bill had passed all stages in the Óireachtas.
The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill can be accessed here.