Sunday 18 March 2018

OECD warning over poor bribery prosecution rate

More resources must be put forward to investigate allegations of foreign bribery.
More resources must be put forward to investigate allegations of foreign bribery.
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE Irish Government must urgently increase its resources to investigate foreign bribery more efficiently, a global economic think tank has warned.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said Ireland had not prosecuted a foreign bribery case in the 12 years since the offence came into being.

Foreign bribery is when an Irish person or company bribes an official in another country.

And the OECD warned that gardai have taken too few steps to investigate allegations.

There are four publicly known allegations of foreign bribery against Irish companies and nationals that fall within the ambit of the Anti-Bribery Convention, with one case being investigated and three more being assessed, the OECD said.

Its working group said there were inadequate resources devoted to foreign bribery cases, blaming the fact that they had been depleted by criminal investigations in the financial sector.

It recommended that "Ireland urgently reorganise law enforcement resources in a manner that credible allegations of foreign bribery will be investigated and prosecuted in a timely and effective manner".

It urged Ireland to "consider how to apply cost-effective and simple detection and investigative steps at the earliest opportunity".

Despite the criticisms, the group also commended Ireland and said it had broadened the forms of bribes and expanded the categories of foreign public officials covered by the foreign bribery offence in the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2010 (POCA 2010).

Sanctions for false accounting offences have also increased under the Companies Act 1990.

An OECD team of lead examiners from Estonia and the UK visited Ireland between June 24 and 26. Its report said Irish government officials were "frank and forthcoming", but complained that the officials put forward were not always the right ones.

Ireland is expected to submit a written report to the working group within two years on steps taken to implement the new recommendations.

Irish Independent

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