The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) has now become a statutory and independent agency called the Corporate Enforcement Authority, with additional resources to investigate and prosecute white collar crime.
The Government is to increase staffing levels by nearly 50%, including doubling the number of gardaí.
The authority’s budget has also been increased by almost 30%.
“We’re giving it real teeth, making sure it has the autonomy and resources to thoroughly investigate suspected wrongdoing, such as fraudulent trading and larger, more complex company law breaches,” the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said.
He said he is confident that the extra staff and additional funding will ensure that the new authority can really make a difference.
The authority is now equipped with significant enforcement powers including the power to issue a range of warning directions or notices, the power to enter and search premises and the power to bring summary criminal prosecutions.
The orders providing for the commencement of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Act 2021 and the establishment of the Corporate Enforcement Authority were signed by the Tánaiste on 5 July and 6 July, respectively.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said corruption and ‘white collar crime’ damages our economy and is a threat to our international reputation.
“While a small country, we are a global centre for financial services with the size of the financial sector here continuing to grow significantly in recent years,” she said.
“When ‘white collar’ criminals undertake their enterprises in Ireland, they must be reminded, in no uncertain terms, that Ireland is no safe-haven and offenders will be prosecuted.
“The significant investment in an independent and more powerful Corporate Enforcement Authority will strengthen our deterrence and is yet another demonstration of the Government’s commitment to tackling crime,” she added.
Minister of State with responsibility for Company Law Robert Troy said the establishment of the new authority will give consumers and businesses confidence that alleged breaches of company law will be effectively investigated and prosecuted.
“The signing of a Memorandum between the new authority and An Garda Síochána will also ensure effective cooperation between these bodies,” he added.
Mr Troy said his department will continue to work with the new authority to ensure it has the appropriate legislative tools necessary to enhance Ireland’s company law framework.
Robert Troy said the new watchdog on corporate law will have the power, resources and expertise to tackle white-collar crime, which he described as “a menace to society”.
Mr Troy said white collar crime “damages our economy and damages international reputation”.
“So, it’s important that we have a body in place with the powers, the resources, and the expertise to deal with breaches of company law,” he added.
He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the Corporate Enforcement Authority will be independent and will have the power to ensure any person or company that breaches corporate law “will face the consequences.”
The CEA will have greater autonomy to recruit the expertise that it needs and additional resources to deal with larger, more complex investigations, he explained.
Mr Troy said the new body will have an increased budget and there will be a doubling of staff and gardaí assigned to the area.
“It’s going to have real power, real teeth”, he said with the transfer of existing powers from the Office of Corporate Enforcement.
It will have the power to investigate suspected offences, the power to enter premises and confiscate documents and the power to prosecute summary offences and refer indictable offences to the DPP, he said.