Amendments to Canadian anti-bribery legislation drastically
increase the Federal Government's ability to lay corruption
charges and the penalties for conviction.
Recent amendments to Canada's Corruption of Foreign
Public Officials Act (the "Act") give added weight
to the anti-bribery Act which was formerly riddled with loopholes.
The amendments expanded the scope of "corruption"
constituting an offence and improved the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police's (the "RCMP") ability to crack down on
The four most significant amendments to the Act passed by
Parliament on June 19, 2013 are:
Increased penalties for offences committed under the Act;
Expanded the scope of the offence of bribery, now including
Created a new offence for falsifying or destroying records to
hide evidence of bribery; and
Established nationality jurisdiction, allowing the RCMP to
prosecute offenders with ties to Canada, whether the offence
occurred in Canada or not.
Fourteen years imprisonment is the new maximum penalty for
corruption offences under the Act, a sharp increase from the former
five year maximum.
Facilitation Payments Now an Offence
Facilitation payments are payments made to lower-level public
officials to expedite or secure the performance of routine tasks
which that public official was required to perform anyway.
Prior to the amendments, facilitation payments were the one
exception to the anti-bribery law. The amendments eliminated the
facilitation payment exception, making these types of payments an
offence punishable under the Act.
Although this amendment has been passed by Parliament, it will
not take effect until a date yet to be named by the Governor
General. This allows businesses time to adjust their policies
regarding facilitation payments and phase out the practice, so as
to be compliant with the amendment when it does take effect.
Books and Records Offence
Any person or business discovered to have "cooked the
books" to hide evidence of corruption faces an additional
books and records offence. Charges for this offence can be brought
regardless if charges are brought for the bribery itself.
This new offence includes keeping secret accounts not included
in the books and records, not recording or falsely recording
transactions, mislabelling entries, knowingly using false documents
or intentionally destroying accounting books and records earlier
than the law permits.
Before the amendments, the RCMP's ability to lay charges was
hindered by the territorial jurisdiction requirements. Previously,
the RCMP could only lay charges where the act or omission which
constituted the offence occurred in Canada or was connected to
Now, an act or omission is deemed to have been committed in
Canada where the person committing the offence is a Canadian
citizen, a permanent resident, or a public body, corporation,
society, company, firm or partnership that is incorporated, formed
or otherwise organized under the laws of Canada or a province.
This gives the RCMP the power to lay charges in Canada for acts
or omissions which happened entirely in a foreign country or
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Canadian engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin has been charged by the RCMP with paying bribes of nearly $48 million to Libyan government officials and defrauding Libya of nearly $130 million.
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