Inter-governmental body criticises Ireland’s failure to detect and prevent corruption

Dublin, 18 December 2013, Transparency International Ireland.

This post was originally published on the Transparency International Ireland website.

OECD calls for reorganisation of law enforcement resources to combat bribery

The Irish Government has been criticised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) today for its failure to commit resources to adequately tackle bribery and corruption.

The OECD report reviews Ireland’s compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention which criminalises payments to foreign officials overseas. It points out that there has not been a single prosecution made against an Irish company since Ireland ratified the convention ten years ago. The report also called for the reorganisation of law enforcement in Ireland to address the problem.

‘While the focus of the OECD’s report is on measures to stop Irish companies bribing foreign officials overseas, this also highlights the urgent need to invest resources in investigating and prosecuting corruption related offences at home. Unfortunately, and in spite of recent allegations of corruption at NAMA and the damning findings of the Mahon and Moriarty Tribunal reports, it appears that tacking domestic and international corruption is not as high on the list of the Government’s priorities as it should be’, said John Devitt, Chief Executive of Transparency International Ireland (TI Ireland).

Meanwhile the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, ‘GRECO’, in a report also published today, has drawn attention to the Government’s slow progress in criminalising the ‘trade in influence’ but gave a largely positive review of measures aimed at improving transparency in political party finances. GRECO noted the delay in creating an offence dealing with secret payments to influence government decisions. Legislation aimed at combatting the trade in influence, including a new Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill and Regulation of Lobbyists Bill has been promised, but these have not been prioritised for presentation to the Oireachtas. GRECO also called for tighter safeguards against fraud in political party finances.

‘While the reports do highlight some progress in terms of planned legislation and some legal reforms implemented two years ago, they also point to continuing shortcomings in the Government’s approach to tackling corruption. The Gardaí and other State agencies are not resourced to investigate or gather intelligence on suspected corruption cases, while the Garda annual policing plan doesn’t refer at all to investigating or prosecuting corruption offences. If existing State agencies aren’t equipped to tackle this problem, it’s time we looked at establishing a properly-resourced and independent anti-corruption body’, added Mr Devitt.