New moves to combat white-collar crime

A beefed-up corporate law enforcement unit, a new anti-fraud agency and more efficient criminal cases are among a suite of measures to be introduced to combat white-collar crime.

The Government will also unveil plans today to strengthen money laundering laws, tighten up company director regulations, and planned enhanced anti-corruption measures.

It comes on the back of the collapse of court cases, international tax evasion scandals as well as concerns about fraud in Ireland and delays in criminal cases.

Under the proposals, the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement is set to get extra powers, staff and a wider remit. While the report sets out the setting up of a new agency, government sources insisted the ODCE would remain in principle, but with extra powers.

The report proposes it be rebranded as a special commission, with a chief commissioner and several commissioners working on specific corporate governance areas.

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

The courts found its work fell short of an impartial, unbiased investigation. It also emerged that documents were shredded . A crucial report from the ODCE on the trial to the Minister for Jobs Frances Fitzgerald — delivered months ago — has still not been released.

The launch today says the new or enhanced agency should get more “autonomy” and “flexibility”.

A separate garda-led joint agency task force will be piloted. This will involve several departments and will initially look into fraudulent payments to businesses and credit card fraud.

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