The Social Democrats have said white-collar crime reforms announced today by the government are welcome and long-overdue but lack critical detail and continue the fragmented approach to tackling corruption in all its forms.
The party’s joint leader Catherine Murphy TD said:
“Several of the new measures are welcome and long-overdue, especially the proposed overhaul of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement which is clearly not fit for purpose. While details of the new proposed agency are scant, it clearly has to be much better equipped and resourced if it is to be able to enforce corporate law competently and with vigour.
“We simply can’t afford to see any repeat of the bungling that led to the recent collapse of the trial of the former Anglo banker Seán Fitzpatrick. It’s just a pity that this reform is only now being mooted, nine years after our banks collapsed and it was already apparent that the ODCE didn’t have the necessary powers and resources to cope with the fall out.
“For the public to have confidence that the State is serious about tackling corporate crime, we need to see more details of exactly how the new agency would operate in practice, along with a firm commitment to properly resource it.”
Deputy Murphy also pointed out that the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill announced today as a new measure dates back to 2012 and incorporates reforms recommended by the Mahon Tribunal into planning corruption in 2011.
“The go-slow approach to this particular Bill is inexcusable and the fact that the government has repeatedly announced it as a ‘new’ measure takes a lot of the shine off the reforms which it includes. Today we see yet another announcement of this Bill, which we are now told will not be published until later this year.
“Overall, what we are seeing today is a continuation of a fragmented and crisis-driven approach to tackling corruption and white-collar crime. It’s also worth noting that many of the 28 actions announced are measures that the government would be undertaking routinely as part of its obligations under EU law.
“The Social Democrats proposals for an Independent Anti-Corruption Agency go much further than today’s narrow reforms which focus on corporate and economic offences. Our plans are for a much more integrated approach to tackling white collar crime and corruption in both the public and the private spheres by merging the ODCE with the Standards in Public Office Commission which is responsible for standards in public life including lobbying regulation and ethics.
“This government has dragged its feet on promised ethics legislation, the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015, which was also a key recommendation of the Mahon Tribunal. That Bill has been stuck in the system for years and there is absolutely no sign of it being expedited.”
2 November 2017