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22 February 2019

On the 30 July 2018, the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 was implemented in response to the results of Mahon Tribunal and various recommendations by the Government. This legislation forms part of the White Collar Crime Package announced by the Government in November 2017. The Act, which covers a broad range of company types and individuals in several formats, consolidates existing Irish law surrounding bribery and corruption and places emphasis on white collar crime.

Corruption Offences

The Act contains five specific corruption offences, namely:

  • bribery;
  • trading & influence;
  • corruption in office;
  • facilitating the commission of a corruption offence; and
  • intimidation.

Some of the above offences apply generally, while some focus specifically on public officials. The bribery provisions have a particular broad scope and there is no exemption for facilitation payments.

The Act significantly extends the circumstances in which a company will be guilty of a corruption offence. This new act apportions blame to the company as well as the individual. As such, the corporate responsibility of a company is increased to cover all individuals operating within. Specifically, if relevant persons commits a corruption offence with the intention of obtaining or retaining business or some other advantage to the company, the company itself will be held liable for the offence. Relevant persons include a company’s officers, employees, agents or subsidiaries.
This new offence is set out in s18 of the Act.

Corporate Liability

The Corruption Act does offer companies some relief when it comes to s18 offences. It is a defence for the company to prove that it took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence. Accordingly, as a safeguard, companies should ensure that they have an effective Anti-Bribery & Corruption policy in place in order to ensure they can rely on the defence.

Anti-Bribery & Corruption Policy

Effective Anti-Bribery & Corruption policy’s aim to:

  • prohibit corruption;
  • provide guidance on particular risk areas, such as gifts and hospitality;
  • set out sanctions and penalties that apply to a breach, including dismissal in serious cases; and
  • indicate where to find further guidance.