I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 to 147, inclusive, together.
As the Deputy is aware, it is the role of An Garda Síochána to investigate alleged offences, to gather whatever evidence may be available and to submit a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP, who is independent in the performance of her functions, then decides whether or not someone should be prosecuted, and for what offence, on the basis of the Garda findings, viewed against the background of common and/or statute law
I am advised by the Garda authorities that two separate investigations have been conducted by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in relation to the Moriarty Tribunal.
1. Investigation by CAB following referral of the final report of the Moriarty Tribunal by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána in March 2011.
In March 2011, the Commissioner tasked CAB with examining the report with a view to identifying any criminal offences that may require investigation by An Garda Síochána. I am informed that the examination of this matter is continuing and a final report has not yet been completed. A number of interim reports have been provided to the Garda Commissioner.
With regard to the progress of the corruption investigations, enquiries have been requested in a number of other jurisdictions, the outcome of which is still awaited at this time.
2. Investigation by CAB in relation to alleged obstruction of the Moriarty Tribunal.
In July 2013, the Chairman of the Moriarty Tribunal made a complaint to the Garda Commissioner concerning alleged obstruction of the Tribunal. I am advised that this matter was fully investigated by CAB and an investigation file was submitted to the Office of the DPP, with directions received on 29 August 2017, that there be no prosecutions.
Separately, in relation to the Mahon Tribunal, I am advised by the Garda authorities that CAB completed its review of the final Mahon Tribunal Report and the report was submitted to the DPP who, on 21 February 2018, directed there be no prosecutions.
In addition, as the Deputy will be aware, the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act was signed into law on 5 June 2018 and commenced in full on 30 July. The Act introduces a number of additional offences to give better effect to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, as well as providing for some of the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.
The Act creates several new offences to strengthen the law on corruption in Ireland. New offences include:
- Offering or agreeing to accept a gift, consideration or advantage to induce another person to exert an improper influence over an act of a foreign or public official.
- Making use of confidential information obtained in the course of duties by an official in order to gain an advantage.
- Giving a gift, consideration or advantage where a person knows or reasonably ought to know that the gift will be used to facilitate a corruption offence.
- A new strict liability offence for corporate bodies whose management, employees or subsidiaries commit a corruption offence with the intention of securing an advantage for the company. It shall be a defence for the body corporate to prove they took reasonable steps to prevent this. The penalty for conviction on indictment is an unlimited fine.
The Act extends the categories of persons to whom the presumptions relating to corrupt donations will apply, to include family members and close business associates, as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal. It also creates a presumption of corrupt enrichment whereby a public official who has not declared an interest in land or other property, when obliged to do so, can be presumed to have obtained it as an inducement or reward for doing an act in relation to his or her office.
Penalties under the Act aim to be sufficiently strong to reflect the serious social and economic harm corruption can do, particularly when committed by public officials. Sentences of up to 10 years are provided for as well as unlimited fines upon conviction on indictment. The Act provides for a penalty of forfeiture of office if an Irish official is found guilty of corruption on indictment, as recommended by UNCAC. The forfeiture of office penalty will not apply where there is already a process for a position to be terminated by resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas, or where the power of removal is derived from a Constitutional power.