On 2 November 2017, the Government published details of reform measures intended to strengthen corporate governance, increase transparency and enhance the response to ’white-collar’ offences in Ireland (available here).
The purpose of the measures is to enhance the existing regulatory and legislative framework in Ireland, in particular in the area of corporate, economic and regulatory crime. The action plan will be implemented primarily through organisational and procedural reform, corporate governance changes, enhancement of powers of authorities to combat offences in the financial sector, and by enacting legislation to counter money laundering and corruption.
The main actions outlined in the measures include:
- establishing the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as an independent company law enforcement agency;
- publishing and enacting the Criminal Procedure Bill to provide for preliminary trial hearings before a jury is empanelled; electronic transmission of warrants; and more efficient and widespread use of video-link evidence;
- enacting the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill, to consolidate anti-corruption legislation and provide for recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal;
- establishing a Joint Task Agency task force for a six month period to examine payment fraud – the findings from the exercise will feed into the overall review of anti-corruption and anti-fraud structures and procedures;
- implementing the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II);
- evaluating of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 for any amendments that may be made to improve its functioning;
- publishing and enacting the Company (Statutory Audits) Bill 2017;
- transposing the Revised Shareholder’s Rights Directive by 2019;
- transposing the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (“MLD4”);
- establishing central registers of beneficial ownership of companies, trusts and similar legal arrangements, as provided for under MLD4;
- implementing the automatic exchange of financial account information under the global Common Reporting Standard; and
- reviewing and reporting on corporate governance and legislation as appropriate.