Crackdown announced on white-collar crime following former DPP’s report

Crackdown announced on white-collar crime following former DPP's report

The government has announced plans to strengthen the prevention and prosecution of white-collar crime following a review headed by James Hamilton, a former director of public prosecutions.

Mr Hamilton, who was Ireland’s top prosecutor from 1999 to 2011, was appointed in 2017 to head a working group examining the State’s anti-fraud and anti-corruption structures and procedures in criminal law enforcement.

His report makes recommendations including changes to legislation, for instance providing for standalone search warrants allowing gardaí to require people under arrest to provide their phone or computer passwords, as well as greater resourcing and collaboration between state agencies.

It calls for the establishment of an Advisory Council against Economic Crime and Corruption to make proposals to the government on strategies and policies to tackle economic crime and corruption, as well as a permanent forum of senior representatives from state agencies to facilitate greater collaboration and information sharing.

As well as continuous training for investigators of economic crime and corruption, it recommends engagement with the judiciary on the development of training for economic crime/corruption cases and the potential for judicial specialisation in the area.

It also suggests that criminal law could be strengthened in the area of public sector ethics, creating new offences such as nepotism, and  legislation could be amended to address situations where former members of Oireachtas may have contravened their obligations under the Ethics Acts and the matter only comes to light after the member has left office.

Mr Hamilton also proposes that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission should be allowed to obtain evidence using covert means, in line with An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will spearhead a new cross-government plan to implement Mr Hamilton’s recommendations.

Ms McEntee said: “Corruption and ‘white-collar crime’ damages our economy, breeds cynicism in our society and is a threat to our international reputation.

“My plan for the implementation of the Hamilton Review recommendations will require collaboration across government, with Cabinet colleagues and with state agencies and will be complemented by other anti-corruption initiatives such as the forthcoming report of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate on Countering the Threat of Internal Corruption.

“The State and its agencies must have all the powers available to clamp down and prevent white collar crime.

“Ireland has a hard-won reputation as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment and as an international business hub, and stepping up our efforts to tackle white collar crime will show we are serious about maintaining and building upon that reputation.”

The Ministers’ plan will identify priorities that can be implemented in the shorter term, such as the enactment of the Criminal Procedure Bill, which is on the current legislative programme for enactment.

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