Minister Flanagan announces passage of Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017
· Hugely important Bill repeals and replaces 7 previous anti-corruption Acts.
· Introduces new offences and tougher penalties than ever before for corruption
· Implements 6 recommendations from the Mahon Tribunal and addresses recommendations from International anti-corruption monitoring mechanisms
30 May 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, this evening announced that the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017 has now passed all stages in the Oireachtas.
Speaking following the passage of the Bill in the Seanad, Minister Flanagan said:
“In the past, corruption was often viewed as an issue of individual morality or lack of it. In more recent decades, it has been viewed as representing a systemic failure for a company, an economy or for a Nation State. The European Commission estimates that corruption amounts to 5% of Global GDP. Having strong anti-corruption laws in place is essential to tackle this deep-rooted problem.
I am very pleased that the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill has now been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. Passing this Bill was a key commitment in the Programme for Government and was also in the Government’s White Collar Crime package announced in 2017.
This Bill represents a complete modernisation of our anti-corruption laws. It repeals Acts dating as far back as the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889. Providing one modern statute will make the law more accessible. It introduces new offences for the first time such as Trading in Influence and a corporate liability offence whereby a body corporate may be guilty of an offence if anyone acting on behalf of that body is found guilty of a corruption offence.
This is a robust piece of legislation with very strong penalties. For conviction on indictment the penalties for most offences are imprisonment for up to 10 years, an unlimited fine, forfeiture of any bribe, possible forfeiture of office for public servants and elected officials and possible prohibition on seeking public office for up to ten years.
I am also pleased that I have been able to address the six recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal Report relating to corruption legislation. This includes creating new offences such as making payments to a third party knowing that payment will be used for a bribe. It also includes extensions to the presumptions of corruption which had been included in the Prevention of Corruption Amendment Act 2001.
Ireland is a party to all relevant International anti-corruption conventions. Each of these bodies has evaluation and monitoring mechanisms which Ireland also participates in. This Bill is responding to a number of recommendations made to Ireland in the various evaluations by these bodies.
In relation to Ireland’s international commitments, Minister Flanagan said “We take our international commitments very seriously. In passing this Bill, we have provided for many recommendations made to us by the OECD, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations monitoring bodies. We will face a number of these evaluations in the coming month and I am confident this legislation will stand up to scrutiny on the international stage”.
Key aspects of the new law 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 doing 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.