Extensive Reform Of Anti-Corruption Law In Ireland - Highlights For Businesses

Author:Mr Robert O'Shea
Profession:Matheson Ormsby Prentice

On 20 June 2012, the Minister for Justice published the draft scheme of the much anticipated Criminal Justice (Prevention of Corruption) Bill 2012. The draft scheme proposes to repeal the current varied sources of anti-corruption legislation in Ireland and replace it with one consolidated piece of legislation. Many of the existing provisions remain in the draft scheme but have been clarified and strengthened.

Although no formal indication has been provided as to when the draft scheme might be published as a bill, it contains a number of interesting and potentially very significant provisions.

From a business perspective, this includes the fact that Irish companies will be liable for the commission of corrupt offences by their employees and associated persons. In this context, the key message is for Irish companies to put in place anti-corruption policies and procedures as soon as possible, in order to avail of the proposed defence under the draft scheme in respect of such liability.

Expanded definition of "corruptly"

The offences of corruption were previously contained in a number of different pieces of legislation dating from 1896 to 2010. The draft scheme clarifies these offences and introduces some additional circumstances where corruption will arise. In summary, the following acts will constitute an offence of corruption under the draft scheme:

corruptly giving or accepting a gift or advantage as an inducement to do or omit to do something; giving a gift or advantage to another knowing, or reckless as to whether, that gift or advantage will be used to facilitate the commission of an offence of corruption; using a document, including a disk, tape, audio or video recording, or internet page, which the user knows or believes to contain a false or defective statement with the intention of inducing another to do or omit to do something relating to his office or employment; and corruptly threatening harm to a person with the intention to influence any person to do or omit to do something in relation to his office or employment. The draft scheme proposes to expand the current definition of "corruptly". A statutory definition of "corruptly" was only introduced in Ireland in 2010 and was limited to "acting with an improper purpose personally or by influencing another person". The new definition is far broader, and includes acting in breach of duty, acting without due impartiality, acting without lawful authority, acting in breach of...

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