The Government has recently announced that it is setting up a new white collar crime agency.
The Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) will replace the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) which is currently a part of the Department of Enterprise.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar has described the new body as "an Irish FBI… for white collar crime".
The agency will be established once the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2021 is passed by the Oireachtas. It is proposed to put the Bill before the Dáil in September.
The ODCE will be reconstituted as the CEA with a bigger budget and it will exist on a standalone basis. In addition to the existing powers of the ODCE, which includes investigating suspected breaches of company law and supervising the roles of insolvency practitioners, the CEA will have new, increased powers.
It is proposed that 14 additional civil servants will be hired and they will be overseen by three commissioners. Sixteen members of An Garda Siochana will be seconded to the new agency which is an increase from the current deployment of seven to the ODCE.
It is envisaged that the CEA will have a staff headcount 50% bigger than the ODCE.
While this is very much a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen if the establishment of the CEA proceeds with pace and if it gets the budget and headcount that it will need to achieve its stated aim of taking the lead in detecting and protecting against significant cyber breaches which are becoming an almost daily feature of Irish public life.
As Eliot Ness famously said, "Never stop fighting, 'til the fight is done".
Written by Killian O'Reilly.
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