Sharper Teeth For Ireland's Corporate Watchdogs


The Irish government's joint framework report adds bite to enforcement against white collar crime

Last November, in a cross-departmental initiative between the minister for business, enterprise and innovation, the minister for finance and the minister for justice and equality, the Irish government published a joint framework report.

'Measures to enhance Ireland's corporate, economic and regulatory framework' contains 26 actions, including the publication of a number of new bills, designed to make it easier to investigate and prosecute white collar crime in Ireland, and aims to enhance Ireland's reputation as a safe place to conduct business.

For these, the government has assigned a lead department to oversee each action point and set a challenging timetable for implementation.

It is clear that the framework report has the potential to affect not only corporate law but also several state agencies and criminal prosecutions generally.

Although company secretaries should review the full set of recommendations, there are a few that make the required reading list, including the changes proposed for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), changes to courtroom procedures for juries, and new fraud offences.

As part of this, the Companies (Statutory Audits) Bill 2017 started the second stage of the Irish legislative process on 23 January. The bill significantly enhances powers for the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority and is also carries measures designed to bolster Ireland's corporate, economic and regulatory environment.

"These measures as these will shape the enforcement of Irish corporate law for decades to come"

Company secretaries and governance professionals need to be aware of these measures as these will shape the enforcement of Irish corporate law for decades to come.

Alongside this, in January the Central Bank of Ireland issued its long-awaited response to the Law Reform Commission's 2016 issues paper 'Regulatory Enforcement and Corporate Offences'.

A secure place

It is important to note that Ireland is already seen as a secure place to do business, and the framework report is designed to boost this good reputation.

Global competitiveness surveys, such as Forbes' Best Countries for Business and business school IMD's world competitiveness rankings, put Ireland in the top tier of countries to operate in and Ireland's regulatory and enforcement regime is active and successful.

In 2016 alone, €555 million was yielded by the Irish Revenue Commissioners from over half a million interventions. Tax offences identified by the Revenue Commissioners resulted...

To continue reading