On February 5, 2013, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) that will enhance Canada's efforts to combat corruption and bribery in international business transactions.
Under the CFPOA, it is a Canadian criminal offence for persons or companies to bribe foreign public officials to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business. The amendments, introduced in the Senate on February 5, 2013 and expected to pass quickly through both the Senate and the House of Commons, include the following key provisions:
Maximum Penalty. The maximum jail term for an individual convicted of a foreign bribery offence will be increased from five years to 14 years, in addition to unlimited fines.
Books and Records Offence. The amendment creates a new offence related to books and records of account kept to further or hide foreign bribery. The penalty for conviction under this new offence is a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment and unlimited fines.
Nationality Jurisdiction. This amendment explicitly permits Canadian authorities to prosecute persons or companies of Canadian nationality for international bribery, making it easier for Canadian authorities to launch prosecutions regardless of where the alleged bribery took place.
Facilitation Payments. The exception for facilitation payments from the CFPOA's bribery prohibition will be removed. Facilitation payments are those made to foreign public officials to secure or expedite the performance of acts of a routine nature that are within the scope of the official's duties.
Exclusive RCMP Authority. The RCMP will have the exclusive authority to lay charges under the CFPOA.
Definition of "Business." The qualifying phrase "for profit" will be removed from the definition of "business," making it clear that the CFPOA applies to all businesses, regardless of whether or not a profit is made.
These amendments are indicative of the Canadian government's increasing emphasis on rooting out international corruption and bribery from Canadian business practices and highlight the need for heightened attention to compliance issues for Canadian individuals and companies conducting business outside the country.
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