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Ireland not doing enough to stop cross-border corruption

12 September 2018

Dublin, 12 September 2018

The Irish Government has been slow to tackle international corruption involving Irish companies and financial institutions according to a new report published by Transparency International (TI) today.

The anti-corruption organisation has released the 2018 edition of its Exporting Corruption report, rating countries based on their enforcement against foreign bribery under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The Convention was ratified by Ireland in 2001 and made it a crime for Irish companies to bribe officials overseas.

While the report welcomes the recent enactment of new anti-corruption legislation, Ireland has yet to prosecute any company alleged to have bribed foreign officials and is considered to be among 18 countries that have little or no enforcement of the Convention.

‘The Government deserves credit for updating the law on bribery and corruption but we’ve seen too few resources and political energy invested in adequately tackling the problem. There have been no prosecutions for foreign bribery and Ireland has recently been threatened with legal action by the European Commission for failing to transpose the latest EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive’, said John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland.

In the meantime, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has recently amended the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 which means that whistleblowers who share commercially-valuable information when exposing offences such as bribery could face prosecution.’, Mr Devitt added.

The report finds that only 11 of the 44 jurisdictions rated conduct active or moderate enforcement against companies bribing abroad. These are Germany, Israel, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States (active enforcement); and Australia, Brazil, Portugal and Sweden (moderate enforcement).

TI also note that several recent money laundering investigations or cases brought in other countries have mentioned the use of Irish shell companies. Irish-based banks are also accused of failing to prevent the laundering the proceeds of corruption from overseas.

In addition, the report finds that there is no publicly available information regarding the number of complaints, investigations, files referred for prosecution or cases in which no prosecution is carried out in Ireland. Ireland also does not publish statistics on requests for mutual legal assistance (MLA) received from foreign jurisdictions, making it difficult to determine how proactive the government is in responding to allegations of bribery and related money-laundering from overseas.

TI has recommended that the Irish Government:

  • collect and proactively provide information on concrete enforcement efforts, including on the number of complaints relating to foreign bribery investigated or sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • repeal the amendment to the Protected Disclosures Act which makes it an offence to disclose‘trade secrets’ when reporting corruption unless a whistleblower can defend his or her motivation in doing so.
  • improve its capacity and level of resources to detect, investigate and prosecute cases of foreign bribery

The full report is available here