Business Irish

Saturday 10 December 2016

Labour TD lambasts Government 'inaction' on white-collar crime

Published 12/04/2015 | 02:30

McNamara, a barrister and farmer, has brought forward a private member's bill that would set up a dedicated unit to investigate and prosecute corporate crime, staffed by officials from Revenue, lawyers, accountants and gardai.
McNamara, a barrister and farmer, has brought forward a private member's bill that would set up a dedicated unit to investigate and prosecute corporate crime, staffed by officials from Revenue, lawyers, accountants and gardai.

A Government backbencher wants to have people accused of white collar crime hauled before the Special Criminal Court.

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Labour Party TD Michael McNamara told the Dail that "subversives within the State and organised crime gangs are moving from the street to corporate crime, as the Mafia did in the USA.

"As we are about to rise for Easter, I am reminded of the funeral sequence in The Godfather II, which took place at that time. One character says: 'One lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than 100 men with guns'. I am not convinced that our criminal justice system has the capability to investigate and prosecute corporate crime.

"We have witnessed high-profile prosecutions - but the offices involved in them have publicly stated that all their resources were used to pursue these investigations.

"I am concerned that if corporate crimes are being reported to the Gardai... the Force does not have the resources or the capability to investigate them," he said in a speech to TDs last week.

McNamara, a barrister and farmer, has brought forward a private member's bill that would set up a dedicated unit to investigate and prosecute corporate crime, staffed by officials from Revenue, lawyers, accountants and gardai.

The bill would allow cases to be heard in the Special Criminal Court, rather than the District Court, if the director of the new unit thinks it is appropriate.

"For any certificate for the Special Criminal Court there has to be a threat to public order, there has to be sort of witness intimidation etc - and obviously there's more of a risk of that when you're talking about organised crime or subversive organisations," Deputy McNamara told the Sunday Independent.

"There's all sorts of Revenue issues with regard to fuel laundering, which is the most obvious one. There's anecdotal evidence, and that's all I have, but that's all there is generally with regard to corporate crime... that there's maybe an involvement in gambling of subversive groups.

"The Taoiseach talks about making Ireland the best little country in the world in which to do business.

"That can't happen if it's the best little country in the world in which to commit corporate crime - because legitimate players who abide by the rules have to compete with people who don't," he added.

A recent Central Bank report found that "more work is required by banks in Ireland to effectively manage money laundering and terrorist financing risk". It found that some institutions weren't providing enough training to staff or assessing risk comprehensively enough.

Deputy McNamara said he brought the bill forward because of what he sees as Government inaction on the issue. Most private members' bills don't become law but teh TD said his bill can succeed if the Government has enough political will.

"At the very least I think we need to generate a debate on how we're going to police corporate crime in Ireland and if we consider that the existing structures are adequate," Deputy McNamara said.

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