The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter T.D., today announced that the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2011 relating to the investigation of white collar crime will come into effect on 9th August 2011.

The main purpose of the Criminal Justice Act 2011 is to facilitate the more effective investigation of white collar crime and to reduce associated delays.

The Act provides for new procedures to facilitate Garda access to essential information, documentation and electronically held information to assist in current and future investigations of white collar crime. The Act also renders it a criminal offence to fail to furnish to the Gardaí information which could prevent the commission of white collar crime or assist the Gardaí in an investigation into white collar crime. It also introduces important new measures to protect whistleblowers. The Act will provide vital assistance to the Gardaí in the completion of current investigations as well as providing assistance to them in investigations undertaken in the future.

Making the announcement Minister Shatter said "I am pleased to announce the commencement of this Act which I brought forward quickly to deal with issues identified as necessary to speed up the investigation and prosecution of white collar crime.

The Act is an important step in ensuring that the white collar criminal will be vigorously pursued by the authorities of the State. We must put an end to any hint of a culture that suggests that the white collar criminal can act with impunity.

I am confident that the Act will provide early assistance to the Gardaí in their current and future investigations. In particular, I want to draw attention to the offence of withholding information provided for in section 19 of the Act.

People who have information relating to current investigations into financial wrongdoing, even if it predates the enactment of this legislation, who have not made that information available to An Garda Síochána, need to be aware that following the commencement of this Act, they will be under a legal obligation to assist the Gardaí in their investigations. Should it emerge, following the commencement of this Act, that they failed to do so, they themselves will be liable to criminal charges. This is just one of the reasons why this Act is so important in the context of current investigations."

The Criminal Justice Act 2011 is available on the website of the Houses of the Oireachtas: www.oireachtas.ie

 

5 August 2011

Note to Editors :

The Criminal Justice Act 2011 is targeted at specified serious and complex offences attracting a penalty of at least 5 years imprisonment, including offences in the areas of banking and finance, company law, money laundering, fraud, corruption, competition, consumer protection and cybercrime.

The provisions in the Act include:

· A new system to make more effective use of detention periods where a person is being questioned by An Gardaí about a relevant offence. This will allow persons arrested and detained for questioning to be released and their detention suspended so that further investigations can be conducted during the suspension period.

· A new power for the Garda Síochána to apply to court for an order to require any person with relevant information to produce documents, answer questions and provide information for the purposes of the investigation of relevant offences. Failure to comply with such an order will be an offence. This is a central provision of the Act.

· Measures relating to how documents are to be produced to the Gardaí. These measures are aimed at reducing the delays associated with the production of large volumes of poorly ordered and uncategorised documents to the Gardaí in the course of their investigations.

· Measures to prevent unnecessary delays in investigations arising from claims of legal privilege.

· The creation of a new offence relating to failure to report information to the Gardaí.

· Provisions to protect employees from penalisation for disclosing information to the Gardaí relating to relevant offences.

 

For your information Section 19 of the Act is below:

Section 19 - Withholding information.

19.—(1) A person shall be guilty of an offence if he or she has information which he or she knows or believes might be of material assistance in—

(a) preventing the commission by any other person of a relevant offence, or

(b) securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any other person for a relevant offence,

and fails without reasonable excuse to disclose that information as soon as it is practicable to do so to a member of the Garda Síochána.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both.