The International Investigations Review, Ireland 7th Edition

Author:Ms Carina Lawlor and Nicola Dunleavy


There are a number of bodies, regulatory and otherwise, which investigate corporate crime in Ireland. These include An Garda Síochana (the police), the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), the Office of the Revenue Commissioners (the Revenue Commissioners), the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and the Office of the Data Protection Commission (ODPC).

Offences are divided between summary (minor) offences and indictable (serious) offences. In general, regulatory bodies are authorised to prosecute summary offences. However, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the relevant body for the prosecution of criminal offences on indictment. The DPP has no investigative function; the relevant regulatory or investigating body prepare a file and submit it to the DPP for consideration. It is then solely at the discretion of the DPP as to whether a case will be taken in respect of the suspected offence. The Central Bank of Ireland also has investigatory and regulatory powers, including powers of inspection, entry, search and seizure, in respect of financial institutions under the Central Bank Act 1942, as amended.

The detection and investigation of criminal conduct is the core function of the police force. The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI) is a subdivision of the police that also provides assistance in investigations of serious fraud. The GBFI is governed by the same statutory framework as the police and therefore has no specific investigative powers for the specialised work it carries out. The Criminal Justice Act 2011 granted both bodies a more extensive range of powers in order to adequately deal with the complex nature of corporate crime. The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB)2 is connected with the police and the GBFI. The primary function of CAB is to carry out investigations into the suspected proceeds of criminal conduct. In carrying out this function, CAB, working alongside the police, is empowered to search and seize any assets suspected of deriving from criminal activity,3 and may arrest any persons obstructing an official investigation.4

Following the introduction of the Companies Act 2014, the ODCE remains the principal corporate enforcer in the state, and is responsible for investigating instances of suspected offences under, and noncompliance with, company law. The ODCE is afforded a wide range of investigative powers under the Companies Act 2014, including powers of entry, search and seizure and the power to compel the production of specific documents that are of material assistance to their investigation. In respect of prosecution, the ODCE has the power to prosecute summary offences and to refer cases to the DPP for prosecution on indictment.5

The Revenue Commissioners is the government agency responsible for the assessment and collection of taxes in Ireland, and also has extensive investigation and prosecution powers. Its investigation and prosecutions division is responsible for the development and implementation of policies, strategies and practices in relation to serious tax evasion and fraud offences. It has a wide range of powers, including the power to conduct civil investigations;6 to conduct investigations into trusts and offshore structures, funds and investments;7 and to obtain High Court orders.8 Of particular significance is the power to obtain information from financial institutions and procure search warrants to this effect.9 Similar to the ODCE, the Revenue Commissioners has the power to prosecute summary offences and to refer cases to the DPP for prosecution on indictment.10

The CCPC, recently established under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014, also holds extensive powers of investigation in relation to suspected breaches of competition law. The CCPC has powers of entry and search and seizure, including the power to search any premises used in connection with a business.11 Its search powers are not confined to a company's offices but extend to the homes of directors or employees.

The ODPC is responsible for enforcing the Data Protection...

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