16 July 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D has welcomed the publication by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime of the Executive Summary of Ireland’s evaluation under the UN Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the Convention Against Corruption.
Ireland’s implementation of Chapters III (Criminalization and law enforcement) and IV (International Cooperation ) of the Convention was subject to review by an Evaluation Team under the first review cycle of the Mechanism.
The Evaluation Team has made a number of recommendations for consideration including recommendations for the swift adoption of the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill, for improved monitoring of implementation of the Convention so as to identify any improvements that might be made in its enforcement and enhanced mutual assistance arrangements.
The Report also identifies a number of Ireland’s successes and good practices in implementing the Convention including the comprehensive whistleblower protection provided by the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, the broad scope of current anti-bribery legislation and Ireland’s non conviction-based confiscation legislation and its enforcement through the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The Minister said: "The Review Mechanism is a very useful tool in helping parties to the Convention meet their obligations and benchmark the national response to tackling corruption having regard to the Convention requirements and good international practice. Ireland already has in place comprehensive legislation and a range of mechanisms which meet Convention obligations as highlighted by the Evaluation Team. However, further work is underway which will enhance Ireland’s response in the areas under review and which will take full account of the recommendations of the Evaluation Team including new legislative proposals to be included in the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill. "
The Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill will replace the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 2010.
The Bill will:
- replace and update the offences of giving and receiving bribes contained in the old legislation
- address the bribery of foreign public officials
- provide for the liability of corporate bodies for the corrupt actions of their directors, employees and agents
- include discrete offences outlawing trading in influence
- take account of the Mahon Tribunal recommendations to criminalise the making of payments knowingly or recklessly to a third party who intends to use them as bribes.
The Bill is also intended to enhance the ability of the DPP to bring prosecutions by providing presumptions of corrupt gifts or payments such as:
-where an interested party makes a payment to a public official;
-where a public official has failed to declare interests as required by ethics legislation; and
-where an official accepts a gift in breach of ethical or disciplinary codes.
Penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and unlimited fines are envisaged for persons convicted on indictment. It is also intended to allow a judge to order a public official convicted of an offence to forfeit their office and exclude them from seeking public office for a period of years. These forfeiture provisions will apply to senior office holders as well as a wide range of civil and public servants.
A copy of the executive summary can be accessed at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Executive_Summary_of_Irelands_evaluation_under_the_UN_Mechanism_for_the_ReviewofImplementation_of_the_Convention_Against_Corruption