The Government is to beef up its response to white-collar crime, following the publication of the Hamilton Report.
Under the new proposals, GardaÍ will have the right to demand computer passwords, as well as new powers to tackle economic crime and corruption.
The Ethics in Public Office Act is also to be strengthened following the publication of the Hamilton Report.
The Hamilton Review recommends Ethics Acts be strengthened and reformed to address instances where breaches of ethical obligations come to light after Oireachtas members have left office.
Curruption 'damages economy'
The new cross-government plan to tackle economic crime and corruption is to be spearheaded by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, following the publication of the Review of Structures and Strategies to Prevent, Investigate and Penalise Economic Crime and Corruption.
The review was led by James Hamilton (pictured), the former Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Corruption and ‘white-collar crime’ damages our economy, breeds cynicism in our society and is a threat to our international reputation,” said Minister McEntee.
The initiative will dovetail with the forthcoming report of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate on internal corruption.
“The State and its agencies must have all the powers available to clamp down and prevent white-collar crime.
“Ireland has a hard-won reputation as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment and as an international business hub, and stepping up our efforts to tackle white-collar crime will show we are serious about maintaining and building upon that reputation,’ the minister said.
Implementing new anti-fraud and anti-corruption structures is also a Programme for Government commitment.
The Hamilton Report focuses primarily on legislative, structural and resourcing measures to enhance agency and multi-agency enforcement and prevention capacity in the criminal justice sphere.
Among the recommendations are:
- Amend criminal justice legislation to allow for standalone search warrants that will allow An Garda Síochána to require persons subject to arrest warrants to provide the passwords to electronic devices owned or controlled by them,
- The establishment of an Advisory Council against Economic Crime and Corruption to make proposals to Government on strategies and policies to tackle economic crime and corruption,
- A permanent forum of senior representatives from State agencies to facilitate greater collaboration and information sharing,
- Greater resourcing for SIPO, DPP, Garda National and Economic Crime Bureau,
- Continuous training for investigators of economic crime and corruption,
- Engagement with the judiciary on the development of training for economic crime/corruption cases and the potential for judicial specialisation in the area,
- Consideration to be given to strengthen criminal law in the area of public sector ethics, including creating new offences such as nepotism,
- Amend legislation to address situations where former members of Oireachtas may have contravened their obligations under the Ethics Acts and the matter only comes to light after the member has left office,
- Provide for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in their investigations to obtain evidence using covert means, in line with An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners.