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Bill hands gardai powers to tackle white-collar crime

LEGISLATION handing tougher powers to the gardai to tackle white-collar crime has been published by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and is expected to be pushed through the Dail before the summer recess.

Mr Shatter said last night his bill was intended to deal with issues currently causing problems and delaying, or potentially delaying, the investigation and prosecution of white-collar crime.

He said the Government was committed to restoring the faith of people in the legal system by ensuring action was taken to end the perception of impunity for criminals in that area.

The bill includes the introduction of police bail to make more effective use of detention periods.

It will allow persons arrested for questioning by the gardai to be released and their detention period suspended so that further investigations can be carried out.

This power could have been very useful during the Anglo Irish investigation, as suspects could have been detained at an earlier stage and then released on bail, thus ensuring their availability for further questioning or risk breaking the law.

Mr Shatter said the extent of data and the complexity of recent investigations had shown it was not always possible to complete questioning and check facts in one period of detention.

New powers are also being given to the gardai to apply to court for an order to require any person with relevant information to produce documents, answer questions and provide that information.

Failure to co-operate will be an offence.

The legislation is targeted at offences in the areas of banking and finance, company law, money laundering, fraud, corruption, competition, consumer protection and cybercrime.

Irish Independent