Counterfeiting Bill 2020: Report and Final Stages

Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 6, line 1, after “Parts 1 and 2” to insert “and sections 29, 30 and 31”.

The purpose of amendments Nos. 1 and 2 is to amend section 1 of the Bill to make provision for the commencement arrangements for the sections in Part 4 of the Bill. Amendment No. 1 relates to the sections that will be commenced by the Minister for Justice, while amendment No. 2 relates to the sections that will be commenced by the Minister for Finance.

These are technical amendments and I am sure no one will have a difficulty with them.

I am sorry; I did not hear the Deputy.

The only amendments tabled are technical amendments and I do not think Members will have difficulties with them.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, line 5, after "Part 3" to insert “and sections 27, 28 and 30”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 3 and amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 6, line 35, to delete “data” and substitute “data,”.

I take it that the issue addressed by the amendment is the insertion of a comma. I do not see any difference apart from the comma.

It might be easier to hear the Deputy if he were to take off his mask.

The only change I see resulting from amendment No. 3 is the insertion of a comma. Is that the amendment?

Amendment No. 3 clarifies the punctuation in the definition of "currency instrument" for consistency with the definition of "counterfeiting instrument". It is aimed at ensuring consistency of drafting.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 8, line 6, to delete “receives or obtains” and substitute “receives, obtains or has in his or her custody or under his or her control”.

Amendment agreed to.
Deputy James Browne: I move amendment No. 5:
In page 8, to delete lines 12 to 18 and substitute the following:
“(2) A person who, without lawful authority or excuse, has in his or her custody or under his or her control a currency instrument, counterfeiting instrument or security feature is guilty of an offence.”.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 6.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 12, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 58 of Act of 2001

11. Section 58(1) (as amended by section 7 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) (Amendment) Act 2021) of the Act of 2001 is amended, in paragraph (a), by the substitution of “(other than Part 5 or 6)” for “(other than Part 6)”.”.

This is an amendment to section 58 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. As Deputies will note and as previously discussed, section 9 of the Bill applies an updated and robust corporate liability regime in respect of the offences under Part 5 of the 2001 Act. This regime replaces the provisions of section 58, which is being amended accordingly.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 25, to delete line 2 and substitute the following:

“ “(ka) section 34(2A);”, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 25, to delete line 3.

What is the reason for the line being deleted?

Sorry; I did not hear the Deputy.

The amendment proposes the deletion of line 3 on page 25. I ask the Minister of State to explain the reason for that deletion.

The amendment proposes a change to the paragraph and sub-paragraph numbering in section 29 of the Bill, which is an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1994. The amended numbering is required because the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) (Amendment) Act 2021 was recently enacted and commenced and section 9 of the Act also amends the relevant provisions. The amendment is necessary in the context of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 25, to delete lines 5 and 6 and substitute the following:

“ “(pa) section 38(2);

(pb) section 38A(1);”.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 10.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 25, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

“Amendment of Economic and Monetary Union Act 1998

30. The Economic and Monetary Union Act 1998 is amended—

(a) by the substitution of the following section for section 13:

“13. The following shall be defrayed out of the general fund of the Central Bank of Ireland and debited therein to the currency reserve:

(a) all sums required for the provision of coins denominated in euro or in cent and provided under section 11;

(b) all sums required for the performance by the Central Bank of Ireland of its functions under sections 12(1)(b), 12(3) and 27(b) of the Counterfeiting Act 2021.”,

and

(b) in section 14A(4) (inserted by section 137 of the Finance Act 2002), by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (a):

“(a) the sum which stands to be defrayed out of the general fund of the Central Bank of Ireland and debited in it to the currency reserve—

(i) under section 13, or

(ii) in respect of the provision of coins under—

(I) section 33(1), or

(II) section 6 of the Decimal Currency Act, 1969,”.”.

I ask the Minister of State to speak to the amendment.

This is an amendment to the Economic and Monetary Union Act 1998 to provide for the recovery of costs by the Central Bank of Ireland for the functions carried out relating to euro coins and, in particular, relating to the protection of the euro against counterfeiting. As he was required to do under Council decision 98/415/EC, the Minister for Finance requested an opinion from the European Central Bank, ECB, on the Counterfeiting Bill. This opinion was supportive of the Bill in general, stating that the ECB welcomed the draft law which will ensure the preservation of euro banknotes and coins in circulation, resulting in continued public confidence in euro banknotes.

The opinion, however, noted that the Central Bank of Ireland should be remunerated for its tasks in respect of euro coins, in particular in the protection of the euro against counterfeiting, and noted a concern that this was only partially done currently.

The issue of notes and coins is treated differently under European law. The governing council of the ECB has the exclusive right to authorise the issue of euro banknotes within the EU. Such notes may be issued by the ECB and by national central banks. In formal terms, it is the task of the European System of Central Banks, ESCB, and, therefore, may be funded from the Central Bank of Ireland's own resources without giving rise to monetary financing concerns.

Member states, on the other hand, may issue euro coins subject to approval by the ECB of the volume of such issue. This task is done by the Central Bank of Ireland as an agent for the Minister for Finance. The monetary financing prohibition requires that such tasks be fully and adequately remunerated. Sections 13 and 14 of the EMU Act provide for the funding of the Central Bank's role in the issue of euro coins to ensure compliance with the monetary financing prohibition. In accordance with these provisions, the bank may offset its expenses associated with the issue of euro coins against the income that is thereby generated with any shortfall being met from funds to be advanced by the Minister for Finance from the Central Fund.

While the ECB opinion acknowledges that sections 13, 14 and 14(a) of the EMU Act provide for reimbursement and remuneration in the provision of euro coins, it notes that this reimbursement does not cover certain relevant costs that arise from the performance by the Central Bank of Ireland of its functions in respect of counterfeiting, and in particular the operation of the coin national analysis centre. The amendment will address this issue by extending the relevant provisions of the EMU Act to cover these functions. The net effect is that the amount that is returned by the Central Bank to the Central Fund will be reduced by the cost of the operation of the functions in respect of counterfeiting. We anticipate this will be in the order of about-----

The moneys involved are very small but, and I asked this in my contribution on Second Stage, where that money comes from now. This is to bring the money from the central fund to cover the cost of counterfeiting. I assumed it was always from the Central Fund, or was it defrayed by the Central Bank? If the Minister of State does not have the answer, it is only a technical point.

I can get the answer for the Deputy.

I do not have the technical answer at the moment, but I will get it for him.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments, received for final consideration and passed.