Friday 9 December 2016

The best small country in the world in which to be a white-collar criminal?

Published 02/02/2016 | 02:30

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, left, and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, launch the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021 earleir this month. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, left, and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, launch the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021 earleir this month. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Following the publication of the Banking Inquiry report, politicians have assured the electorate that new laws and tighter regulations mean the mistakes of the past will never be repeated. However, there is little evidence to support this optimistic appraisal.

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Promises to tackle white-collar crime were first made in 1998. In a review of company law compliance and enforcement, Michael McDowell found that most of the offences contained in the Companies Acts had "never been the subject of prosecutions" and that Ireland was "characterised by a culture of non-compliance".

"Those who are tempted to make serious breaches of company law have little reason to fear detection or prosecution. As far as enforcement is concerned, the sound of the enforcers' footsteps on the beat is simply never heard," he said. That report ultimately led to the setting up of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) in 2001, with one headline at the time screaming, 'Corporate Enforcer to get Tough on Crime'.

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