1. What is the legal framework (legislation/regulations) governing bribery and corruption in your jurisdiction?
Common Law Offences
At common law, it is an offence to offer an undue reward to, or receive an undue reward from, a public official in order to influence that person in the exercise of his or her duties in that office contrary to the rules of honesty and integrity. These common law offences of bribery and attempted bribery are punishable by imprisonment or a fine, or both However, the common law bribery and attempted bribery offences have not been judicially considered in recent times and prosecuting authorities mainly rely on the statutory offences.
The principal statutory sources of bribery law in Ireland are:
- the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, as amended by the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916 and the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 (the "Public Bodies Act").
- the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, as amended by the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2010 (the "Prevention of Corruption Act").
2. Which authorities have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute bribery in your jurisdiction?
The following bodies are mandated to investigate alleged offences under Irish bribery law, relating to both foreign and domestic public officials:
- the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (this is an office of the Irish police force);
- the Revenue Commissioners;
- the Criminal Assets Bureau; and
- the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
The prosecution of offences is carried out by the Director of Public Prosecutions ("DPP").
The Standards in Public Office Commission (the "SIPO Commission") is responsible for the investigation of breaches of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 (as amended). Following an investigation, the SIPO Commission may make a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions if it is of the opinion that an office holder or public servant the subject of the investigation has committed an offence.
3. How is bribery defined?
The Public Bodies Act
The principal offences under the Public Bodies Act deal with corruption in Irish public office and apply in situations where a corrupt payment is being made to, or for the benefit of, an officeholder, their special adviser, a director, or an employee of an Irish public body. In these cases, it is an offence for a person to:
- give, promise or offer, solicit, receive or agree to receive,
- for himself, or for any other person,
- any gift, fee, loan, reward or advantage whatsoever as an inducement to, or reward for,
- an office holder or his or her special adviser or a director of, or occupier of a position of employment in, a public body,
- doing or forbearing to do anything in which the public body is concerned.
The term 'corruptly' is not defined in the Public Bodies Act.
The Prevention of Corruption Act
The Prevention of Corruption Act prohibits three offences, commencing with corruptly accepting a gift. It is an offence for an agent or any other person to:
- accept, agree to accept, or agree to obtain,
- a gift, consideration or advantage,
- for himself or any other person,
- as an inducement, reward or on account of the agent doing any act, or making any omission,
- in relation to the agent's office or position, or his principal's affairs or business.
The second offence is corruptly giving a gift. In this case, it is an offence for a person to:
- give, agree to give or offer,
- a gift, consideration or advantage,
- to an agent or any other person,
- as an inducement to, or reward for, or otherwise on account of the agent doing any act, or making any omission,
- in relation to his office or his principal's affairs or business.
The third offence is making a false statement whereby a person will be guilty of an offence if they knowingly give to any agent, or an agent knowingly uses with intent to deceive his or her principal, any receipt, account or other document which contains any statement which is false or erroneous or defective in any away, and which to that person's knowledge is intended to mislead the principal.
A definition of 'corruptly' was introduced in 2011 as "acting with an improper purpose personally or by influencing another person, whether by means of making a false or misleading statement, by means of withholding, concealing, altering or destroying a document or other information, or by any other means". The phrase 'improper purpose' is not defined.
The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 (the "Theft and Fraud Act") incorporates into Irish law the offences of active and passive corruption as set out in the First Protocol to the EU Convention of the Protection of European Communities Financial Interests. While in many ways similar to the offences outlined above, these apply solely to active and passive corruption of officials of the European Communities or member states that damage the EU's financial interests.
Originally published by The Legal 500 and The In-House Lawyer Comparative Legal Guide to Bribery and Corruption 2018.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.