Government introduces new measures to tackle white collar crime

The ODCE is being remodeled to give it stronger powers

Updated: 16.40

New offences relating to bribery and a stronger Office of the Director of the Office of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) are among the measures introduced by the Government to tackle white collar crime.

Four Departments have come together to launch the measures - which will include establishing a task force led by gardaí to address payment fraud.

One of the main changes is to give greater independence to the ODCE, which was heavily criticised by the judge who presided over the trail of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald says the new ODCE will be led by a commissioner.

"The model - similar to Revenue or similar to the Consumer Protection Agency - the model that we would use for that would be a chief commissioner and two other commissioners.

"So a different model, independent, recruiting its own staff".

The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill includes a new offence of 'trading in influence' to criminalise bribing a person who may exert an improper influence over the decision-making of a public or foreign official.

This is based on the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.

Pictured outside Government Buildings announcing a new suite of measures against white collar crime are (l to r) Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald; Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Transport Shane Ross | Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says the maximum sentence for such offences will be 10 years and an unlimited fine.

"By creating new offences of making payments knowingly or recklessly through a third party who intends to use them as bribes or kick-backs, and of using confidential information to obtain an advantage in a corrupt manner".

Under the bill, it is now an offence for a public official to make use of confidential information acquired in the course of their duties to obtain an advantage.

It also outlaws a person giving a gift, where the person knows or reasonably ought to know that it will be used to facilitate corruption

In total, the bill addresses six of the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.

It also includes a new strict liability offence, where a corporation can be liable for the actions of directors, managers, employees or agents who commit a corruption offence for the benefit of the corporation.

The report has 28 actions which will begin to be implemented in the coming weeks.

Additional reporting: Michael Staines, Juliette Gash and Jack Quann