Ireland will move further away from its perceived "light touch" regulatory regime if recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) in a recent report are implemented.
The extensive report recommends sweeping reforms of the regulation of corporate and financial crime in Ireland, with over 200 recommendations set out in its 800 pages. While this may be an indication of what is to come in this area, Government support and legislative change will be required to bring any of the recommendations into effect.
Establishment of a New Corporate Crime Agency
One particular recommendation that seems likely to be implemented is the creation of a new independent corporate crime agency to combat corporate crime. The LRC recommends that this agency be staffed by a mix of experienced inter-disciplinary personnel, including forensic accountants, Revenue Commissioners officials, members of An Garda Síochána (the Irish police) and criminal law practitioners.
The recommendation for this multidisciplinary agency comes on the back of the procedural failings of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) to deal with complex corporate criminal trials on indictment and the proven effectiveness of the Criminal Assets Bureau, which is made up of a similar mix of experienced personnel. The LRC also recommends that a dedicated unit be established within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to work in tandem with the corporate crime agency.
This recommendation is similar to the proposal in the Government's White Collar Crime Package that the ODCE be established as an independent agency with powers to recruit and enlist expert staff.
An Garda Síochána have also voiced their support for the establishment of a single overarching regulatory body in this area, highlighting the inefficiency of the current situation whereby multiple regulators may be conducting investigations into the same set of circumstances unknown to each other.
Increased Powers for Regulators
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of financial and economic regulators such as the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the LRC has recommended that regulators' powers should be strengthened and standardised by the introduction of a "regulatory toolkit" of core powers.
In particular, the LRC recommends that two key powers of the Central Bank of Ireland be made available to other regulators:
the power to impose administrative financial...