Irish Series: Irish businesses beware of new Anti-Corruption legislation

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A new Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill has been passed through Irish Parliament, and it is expected that this will shortly be passed into law. When passed, the legislation will introduce a range of new corruption related offences as well as expanding the scope of Irish anti-corruption law. It serves to codify the existing law, repealing and replacing 7 existing Prevention of Corruption Acts, and will criminalise both active and passive corruption

The Anti-Corruption legislation will mean that Irish citizens, companies and other corporate bodies registered in Ireland who commit acts outside of Ireland which if committed in Ireland would be an offence under the Act may be prosecuted in Ireland under this legislation.

The key aspects of the proposed new legislation are as follows:-

  1. The creation of a corporate liability offence, whereby a body corporate can be found guilty of an offence if anyone acting on behalf of that body is found guilty of a corruption offence.
  2. A donation will be presumed to be corrupt where it has not been disclosed or an explanation given;
  3. Criminalise any act of an Irish public official carried out in the course of their official position with the intent of corruptly obtaining an advantage for a third party, whether that third party was involved or not;
  4. Create severe penalties for businesses and individuals that engage in corrupt behaviour, including a prison sentence of up to 10 years and/or unlimited fines;
  5. Give the Courts the power to remove public officials from office and prevent them from holding office for up to 10 years;
  6. Grant the Court the power to order the forfeiture of assets equal to the value of the bribe as an alternative to forfeiture of the bribe itself;
  7. Hold a company liable for the actions of its directors or employees who commit a corruption offence, unless the company can show that it took all reasonable steps and exercised due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.

The legislation has been hailed as a robust piece of legislation and will now pass to the President to sign into law.

Our Irish qualified solicitor Caoimhe Boyce keeps her eye on the legal news in Ireland. For further discussion or to get her views on any matter, contact her on cboyce@meaby.co.uk.

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