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Government Publishes a Package of Measures aimed at Fighting White Collar Crime

20171101 White Collar Crime Post

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald pictured at the launch of the Measures to Enhance Ireland's Corporate and Regulatory Framework Document

The Government today published a suite of measures aimed at enhancing corporate governance, increasing transparency and strengthening Ireland’s response to White Collar Crime. 

While Ireland is internationally identified as a low risk economy and a secure place in which to do business, this Government believes that it is essential to continue to respond to emerging challenges.

At the request of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan have collaborated to agree a detailed package of measures and implementation timeframes.

The main actions include: 

  • Establishing the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as an independent company law compliance and enforcement agency, with the ability to recruit and enlist expert staff;
  • Piloting a Joint Agency Task Force to tackle White Collar Crime.  The pilot will address payment fraud (including invoice redirection fraud and credit card fraud) – a criminal enterprise which is increasingly exploited by sophisticated criminal enterprises and which can have devastating effects on individuals and on businesses, resulting in closures of companies and job losses;
  • Enacting the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill which includes legislative provision for recommendations arising from the Mahon Tribunal and will substantially advance meeting Ireland’s obligations under a number of international anti-corruption instruments.  This major modernisation of corruption offences law will repeal and replace the seven previous Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 2010;
  • Enacting the Criminal Procedure Bill, which will, among other things, streamline criminal procedures to enhance the efficiency of criminal trials;
  • Implementing the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) to improve the functioning of financial markets, making them more efficient, resilient and transparent and strengthen investor protection;
  • Evaluating the Protected Disclosures Act, to ensure that the legislation has been effective in line with its objectives; and to identify how it might be improved if necessary;
  • Ensuring this package of measures will be subject to regular scrutiny by Oireachtas to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the measures.

Announcing the Government initiative, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

Like a lot of people, I am frustrated at our inability as a country to secure more convictions when it comes to corruption and white-collar crime. Corruption and white-collar crime damage our economy, breed cynicism in our society and are a threat to our international reputation.

So, we have looked at best practice around the world and will be changing our approach into the future through new laws and better enforcement. We cannot change the past but we can change things for the future. This is a whole of Government effort and a national priority for me as Taoiseach.

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said:

While Ireland is internationally identified as a low risk economy and a secure place in which to do business, this Government recognises that, like every other jurisdiction, we must continue to respond to emerging challenges.

I will be establishing a new independent statutory agency which will be responsible for company law compliance and enforcement and it will investigate increasingly complex breeches of company law.  This will be established in line with international best practice and my Department will continue to engage with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in relation to international best practice.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said:

My Department has been working for some time on a major overhaul of the anti-corruption law.  The Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill 2017 is a major legislative initiative which includes important new offences such as “trading in influence” by public officials, and ensure greater transparency and accountability in a range of areas. 

The Criminal Procedures Bill 2017 will attempt to address the speed with which White Collar Crime cases are processed.

“Recognising the variety of expertise needed for investigations into diverse areas where issues are identified from time to time, we will pilot a Joint Agency Task Force approach.  The first Joint Agency Task Force will investigate payment fraud.  We will evaluate this approach and, if it is deemed effective, we will introduce Joint Agency Task Forces on other areas of concern.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said:

In our push for greater transparency, Ireland has signed up to a number of European instruments on sharing information and creating registers of beneficial ownership of companies. Our anti-money laundering measures are delivering tangible results and we will continue to strengthen them in the years ahead, as my Department takes the lead in responding to the recommended actions of the Financial Action Task Force Report on Ireland’s Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism framework.

Transport Minister Shane Ross, said:

For many years I have highlighted the need to ensure strong legislation and regulation to ensure that the rule of law applies clearly and fairly in every sector of society.  The measures introduced today make clear the Government’s intent to prevent and prosecute white collar crimes.  It is a clear message to those who believe they are above the law.

The report is available here

Read the full press release here.