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slightly overdue

Ireland's corruption laws date back to Victorian times, but are now getting an overhaul

The new laws will provide for unlimited fines, and jail sentences of up to 10 years if found guilty of corruption.

THE GOVERNMENT SAYS it is introducing a “comprehensive” package of new measures to tackle white-collar crime, to update legislation that dates as far back as 1889.

The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017 will bring a string of new offences that aim to fight corruption, with recommendations made by the Mahon Tribunal included in the Bill.

One of the key pieces of the legislation will see a corporation being liable for the actions of directors, managers, employees or agents who engage in corruption in order to benefit that company.

It provides for penalties such as unlimited fines, in certain circumstances, and imprisonment of up to 10 years.

The Bill also allows for a person holding public office to be removed from their position if found guilty of corruption.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said: “This major legal reform involves not just an overhaul of legislation dating back to Victorian times, it introduces new offences, proposes stronger penalties for those convicted of corruption and makes provision for many recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.”

As per the Mahon Tribunal’s recommendation, an Irish official who uses confidential information obtained in the course of their work for corrupt purposes shall be guilty of an offence.

Among other matters, the Mahon Tribunal found that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did not truthfully account for payments of IR£165,000 made to accounts connected to him.

The report did not make findings of corruption against Ahern, but proved hugely damaging to his reputation. He has disputed the findings.

Earlier this month, the government announced that the country’s corporate watchdog the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) was to be overhauled.

The ODCE came in for criticism after the collapse of the case against former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick.

It was found that the ODCE staff had destroyed evidence and coached witnesses during its investigation. Jobs Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who was formerly justice minister, said that the ODCE was “not fit for purpose” after the case fell apart.

Read: Ireland’s ‘unfit’ corporate watchdog is about to get a major overhaul

Read: Explainer: How people on tracker mortgages were shafted by financial institutions

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