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2019: Submission on reform of Anti-Fraud/Anti-Corruption Structures

April 2019

While Ireland is not perceived to be highly corrupt by international standards, corruption is still considered to be a significant enough problem to justify considerable increases in State funding for enhanced anti-corruption measures and renewed efforts to promote open government. This submission highlights existing and emerging anti-corruption risks, touching on international good practice and summarising existing efforts in Ireland aimed at tackling corruption, with emphasis on addressing abuses of public office and public resources.

TI Ireland made the following ten recommendations in our submission to the Department of Justice and Equality on tackling corruption and white collar crime:

  1. A well-resourced anti-corruption policy unit at the DJE should develop a National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) or strategy aimed at implementing a long-term and holistic approach to preventing, detecting and prosecuting those responsible for abuses of public office for private gain
  2. A multi-agency taskforce on corruption should be established to help inform an annual national corruption risk assessment (which inform the NACP) and to help share information and intelligence among appropriate agencies 
  3. Such a taskforce would be complemented by a multi-stakeholder forum on fraud and corruption with representatives from government, An Garda Síochána and relevant regulatory bodies as well as representatives from the professions, industry and civil society 
  4. New incentives need to be considered for those coming forward with information on corruption. For example, a Corruption Immunity Programme based on the Cartel Immunity Programme could encourage corrupt officials or those corrupting them to break ranks 
  5. Intelligence-led policing of public-sector corruption is essential if red-flags and suspicious patterns are to be identified. However, the sharing of data among existing agencies is unlikely to be enough to expose the most complex and politically-sensitive cases 
  6. For this reason, an independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NACB) may need to be established in addition to a Corporate Enforcement Authority. The NACB would have powers similar to the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption 
  7. Legal reforms are urgently required including the introduction of the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015; the removal of the dual criminality provision in the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences Act) 2018; repeal of a recent amendment to the Protected Disclosures Act and the amendment of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 
  8. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and An Garda Síochána should publish disaggregated data under a new category that allows for analysis of enforcement of corruption-related offences. Prosecutions are currently categorised under fraud offences
  9. Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) are likely to be a useful means of holding corporations to account for corruption-related offences. However, DPAs should not be used to allow natural persons (i.e. management or employees) to avoid prosecution
  10. Guidelines should be published to help investigators better communicate with witnesses of fraud and corruption. These would also help potential witnesses understand their rights and responsibilities and help avoid public frustration arising from the conduct of investigations

To download the submission, please click here