UN report calls for increased staff for anti-corruption unit and code of conduct for judges

UN report calls for increased staff for anti-corruption unit and code of conduct for judges

The United Nations has called on Ireland to boost staffing at the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit, saying there are only three members attached to it.

UN authorities also want a special inter-agency body to coordinate efforts to combat corruption.

It has also called for the establishment of a Judicial Council, saying there was no code of conduct for judges.

The UN did commend Ireland’s strong anti-money laundering legislation, its whistleblower laws and the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The findings come from an evaluation of Ireland’s compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

The Government published an executive summary of the team’s findings, saying it identified both “Ireland’s successes and good practices” — however, it also identified “challenges” Ireland faces.

Coinciding with the publication, and in advance of the full report next month, the Department of Justice announced a public consultation in relation to its review of anti-fraud and anti-corruption structures.

In relation to the gardaí, the UN report said: “Ireland has recently established a dedicated anti-corruption unit within An Garda Síochána to investigate and prevent corruption.

“Currently, however, the unit has only three staff and its corruption prevention mandate is not sufficiently clear.”

The unit was established in 2017 and in September 2018 it launched a confidential line for reporting bribery and corruption.

Regarding judges, the review team said: “There is no code of conduct for members of the judiciary and the adoption of such a code would be facilitated by the establishment of a judicial council.”

It said there was no formal courses on ethics for new judges and that they “are not required to declare any interests at present”.

It said Ireland had a “robust and mature regime” for combating money laundering and had established the Anti-Money-Laundering Steering Committee to develop Ireland’s money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policy.

It said Irish “successes and good practices” on preventing corruption included: whistleblower legislation where the motive of the discloser is “irrelevant”; the freedom of information disclosure log; and the money laundering committee.

But it recommended that Ireland:

Ensure adequate resourcing and staffing of preventative authorities, particularly of the Anti-Corruption Unit within An Garda Síochána, and clarify their tasks with regard to prevention;

Set up an anti-corruption inter-agency steering committee, similar to the one on money-laundering

Consider lowering the limits in relation to gifts to public officials;

Establish a Judicial Council with a mandate to adopt a code of conduct for judges;

Consider establishing a unified anti-money-laundering supervisory authority.

The team said Ireland had a “comprehensive” legislative and policy framework for asset recovery and that “successes and good practices” included the establishment of CAB.

In a statement, Garda HQ said: “An Garda Síochána has established an anti-corruption unit and late last year, as part of its work, it established a confidential anti-corruption reporting line.”

It said the force had invested “significant time and resources” in investigating and prosecuting former senior managers in financial institutions, such as David Drumm, an investigation that took nine years and a trial lasting six months.

It said they would take on board the UN report.

In the Government’s public consultation, it is seeking submissions on structures within the Gardaí and other agencies to target fraud and corruption; whether or not there should be a stand-alone agency; adequacy of the legal basis for sharing information between relevant bodies; and the resources and expertise needed in relevant agencies.

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