New anti-corruption Act comes into force today
Companies who fail to prevent corruption may face unlimited fines under new law
New anti-corruption law creates new offences and tougher penalties
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, today announced that the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 has come into force. The Act was signed into law by the President on 5th June 2018 following swift passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas this year.
Speaking today, Minister Flanagan said:
“I am delighted to commence this hugely important piece of legislation that will completely overhaul Ireland’s anti-corruption laws. This is a robust piece of legislation with sufficiently tough and effective 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.
The enactment of a modern anti-corruption statute was a key commitment in the Programme for Government and also forms part of the Government’s White Collar Crime package announced late last year. This highlights our ongoing commitment to tackle the issue of corruption at a national and international level.
One of the key aspects of the new Act is a new corporate liability offence whereby a body corporate may be found guilty if anyone acting on behalf of that body commits a corruption offence. A body corporate convicted under the Act could face a potential unlimited fine. It will be a defence for the body corporate to prove that it took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence. This is intended to incentivise bodies corporate to have in place effective and rigorous systems of checks and balances to prevent corruption.
Finally, I am very pleased that I have been able to address six recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal Report relating to corruption in this Act. The Act has also given effect to various recommendations made to Ireland by the OECD, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations monitoring bodies, who have all welcomed the provisions of new Act.”
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 as 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.