The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2010

The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2010 was signed into law on 15th December 2010 and amends existing anti-corruption legislation, especially the Prevention of Corruption Act 2001. While it applies to everyone, its purpose is to strengthen the law against corruption in public office and to provide specific protection for so-called “whistleblowers”. Whistleblowers are any employees who disclose wrongdoing in the context of their employment which could potentially be qualified as a corruption offence.

Any giving or receiving of an inducement, no matter if it presents a monetary gain or not, is an offence when it is done corruptly in return for the other person doing or omitting to do something in relation to his position or his principal or employer. The Act defines “corruptly” as “acting with an improper purpose personally or by influencing another person, whether by means of making a false or misleading statement, by means of withholding, concealing, altering or destroying a document or other information, or by other means.”

If an employee reports a corruption offence he will be protected from civil liability and from penalisation by his employer. The report has to be made to either the Irish police, the employer or a confidential recipient appointed by the Police Commissioner. However, the protection against civil liability or penalisation provided by the Act only applies where the employee acts in good faith. He does not act in good faith where he knew or was reckless not to know that his opinion was misleading, frivolous, false or vexatious and he will then be guilty of a criminal offence. At the same time, the employer will be guilty of a criminal offence where he penalises an employee who has reported or intended to report a suspected corruption offence. The penalisation by the employer includes every act or omission which affects the employee to his detriment. In that case, a redress procedure exists for the employee by way of a complaint to the Rights Commissioner.

Under this law, prosecution may also proceed for a corruption offence committed abroad by Irish public officials, but also by an Irish citizen, by any resident in Ireland or by any company registered in Ireland.