Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

8:45 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour) | Oireachtas source

We need to be clear on this issue. Deputy Fleming is talking about two different things. These penalties are for obstructing a proper inquiry. They are not penalties for being a tax defaulter, for example. There is tax law in place to deal with tax defaulters and tax defaulters must be prosecuted through the courts in the normal way. The penalties and the creation of offences here refer only to the obstruction of the work of the Oireachtas in conducting inquiries. The penalties for corporate bodies parallel the individual penalties. Section 120 provides that "if the offence is attributable to any wilful neglect, of a person who was a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the body corporate, or a person purporting to act in that capacity, that person, as well as the body corporate, is guilty of an offence and may be proceeded against and punished as if he or she were guilty of the first-mentioned offence". The directors, secretary or officers of a corporate body would be acted upon if that corporate body wilfully gave wrong evidence or obstructed the work of the committee in the way we have outlined in the Bill. If there was a consequent discovery of tax fraud or any other criminal activity, that would be pursued in the normal way by the DPP.


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