Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) have been a topic of discussion in Ireland recently. DPAs are an agreement between prosecutors and companies that allow the company to avoid prosecution in exchange for admitting wrongdoing and complying with certain conditions. The concept of DPAs is relatively new in Ireland, having been introduced in 2018 under the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act.
Under the Act, DPAs are only available for certain economic crimes, including corruption, bribery, and money laundering. The decision to enter into a DPA is made by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the terms of the agreement are subject to court approval.
The use of DPAs has been controversial, with some arguing that they allow companies to avoid true accountability for their actions. However, proponents argue that DPAs can be an effective tool for holding corporations accountable while avoiding the negative consequences of a criminal trial.
One example of the use of DPAs in Ireland is the case of Irish engineering firm, Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID). In 2019, P&ID was awarded a $9.6 billion judgment against the Nigerian government in a dispute over a gas processing plant. However, the judgment was later overturned by a UK court, which found that P&ID had secured the contract through bribery.
In 2021, it was reported that P&ID had entered into a DPA with the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions. Under the terms of the agreement, P&ID would pay a fine of €50,000 and agree to certain conditions, including cooperating with ongoing investigations and disclosing any future wrongdoing. If P&ID complies with the terms of the agreement, they will avoid prosecution in Ireland.
Critics of the DPA in the P&ID case argue that the company should face criminal charges for their role in the corruption scandal. However, others argue that the DPA is a more pragmatic solution, acknowledging the company`s wrongdoing while avoiding the negative consequences of a criminal trial.
Overall, the use of DPAs in Ireland remains a contentious issue. While they can be an effective tool for holding corporations accountable, critics argue that they allow companies to avoid true justice for their actions. As this issue continues to be debated, it will be interesting to see how DPAs are used in future economic crime cases in Ireland.