The General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill 2012 (the "Draft Scheme") was approved by the Irish Government on June 19, 2012. The measures set out in the Draft Scheme, along with the Criminal Justice Act 2011, represent part of the Government's focus on attacking and preventing white collar crime. The existing law on corruption, the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 - 2010, comprises several different Acts, and includes statutes dating back to the late nineteenth century. The general provision of the Draft Scheme is to replace the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 - 2010 with a single statute in an effort to modernise and clarify Irish law on bribery and corruption. The new legislation will seek to update the existing offences in relation to bribery, add new related offences, and implement some of the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal1 report into planning matters and payments to politicians. The Courts will also be given wider-ranging powers to deal with possible corruption offences by Irish public officials. The definition of "Irish public official" includes Government Ministers, members of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, judges, civil and public servants along with directors of companies.
Liability of Corporate Bodies
One aspect of the proposed legislation, in response to criticism of existing Irish law by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD"), is to establish a "clear provision for the liability of corporate bodies for corrupt criminal acts". Up to now, such liability was provided under the common law but not specifically set down in statute. The Draft Scheme includes new provisions allowing bribery and corrupt practices by employees and agents of a company to be automatically imputed to the company. Head 13 titled "Offences by Bodies Corporate and Unincorporated Bodies" provides:
"Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a director, manager, secretary, officer, employee, subsidiary or agent of a body corporate with the intention of obtaining or retaining business for the body corporate or to obtain or retain an advantage in the conduct of business for the body corporate, that body corporate shall also be guilty of an offence".
An Irish company with foreign subsidiaries will also have a responsibility to ensure the ethical behaviour of its entire organisation. Highlighted as a key area for legislative reform in the Arthur Cox December 2011 Bulletin "Bribery and...