The Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Alan Shatter, published the Draft Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill 2012 on Wednesday 20th June 2012. The Draft Scheme includes some of the measures recommended by the Mahon Tribunal Report published in recent months.
Amongst the new measures included in the Scheme are:
- Companies must “take all reasonable steps” and “exercise all due diligence” to avoid criminal liability.
- Bribery and corrupt practices by employees and agents of a company are to be automatically imputed to the company.
- Directors and managers who “wilfully neglect” the commission of an offence will be criminally liable.
- Where a public official maintains a standard of living “above that commensurate with official remuneration” or has control of a disproportionate amount of property, then there will be a presumption that the public official is living off bribes.
- Intimidation of a public official is to be an offence, if motivated by a wish to corrupt the decision of the public official.
- Disclosure by a public official of confidential information for gain is outlawed.
- Unlimited fines now apply for all bribery and corruption offences under the Act.
- The holder of a public office will be subject to removal from that office – including elected office – and barring from office for 10 years.
- Pensions cannot be forfeited (due to a Supreme Court decision on the constitutional right to property) but the possibility of unlimited fines provides scope to achieve the same economic effect.
In summary as the scheme currently stands, companies will now need to “take all reasonable steps” and “exercise all due diligence” to prevent bribery, corrupt practices and related unlawful behaviour by their employees, subsidiaries, agents, officers and managers and also directors and secretaries. What “all reasonable steps” will mean will come down to a matter of common sense. It is also likely to post significant challenges for companies with overseas subsidiaries in terms of compliance.
It is hoped however that the end result will be to make it easier for the honest to come forward and to uncover corrupt practices and bribery and in that regard the draft scheme is certainly welcomed.