On May 23, 2014, Justice Charles Hackland of the Ontario
Superior Court sentenced Nazir Karigar, a former executive, to
three years imprisonment. Justice Hackland had previously found
that Mr. Karigar had violated the Corruption of Foreign Public
Officials Act (CFPOA ) by agreeing to offer bribes to
foreign public officials in India in order to secure a major
contract from Air India.
Mr. Karigar worked for the Canadian subsidiary of
CryptoMetrics, an American company that was attempting to win a
lucrative contract with Air India for biometric security systems.
Executives at CryptoMetrics were found to have conspired with Mr.
Karigar to bribe officials at Air India and the Indian government,
including the then Minister of Civil Aviation.
Under the sentencing provisions of the CFPOA in force
when Mr. Karigar committed an illegal act of bribery, the maximum
sentence was 5 years. As reported in our previous Bulletin, in June
of 2013 the maximum sentence for offences under the
CFPOAwas increased to 14 years (see
While Justice Hackland acknowledged that the increase in the
maximum sentence for bribing a foreign public official could not
retroactively apply to Mr. Karigar, his Honour observed that the
increased tarrif demonstrated "Parliament's recognition of
the seriousness of this offence and of Canada's obligation to
implement appropriate sanctions". His Honour further noted
that the sentence of the court must disavow any notion that bribery
is "simply the cost of doing business" in many countries
around the world.
Ultimately, Mr. Karigar received a penitentiary sentence of
three years imprisonment.
The sentence is significant for several reasons. First, as all
previous prosecutions brought under the CFPOA concluded in
guilty pleas and involved charges against corporations, this is the
first sentence imposed on an individual following a contested
trial. This case therefore sets a noteworthy precedent for
forthcoming cases involved allegations of CFPOA
violations. Second, the sentence demonstrates that Canadian courts
are inclined to impose penitentiary sentences under the
CFPOA, even for those found guilty of only agreeing to
offer bribes to foreign public officials. There was no evidence
presented in this case that any bribe had actually been paid. In
fact, the court noted that "the entire bribery scheme was a
complete failure". While Justice Hackland agreed that the
scheme's unsuccessful outcome was a mitigating factor, he
rejected Mr. Karigar's argument that a reformatory sentence,
including community service, would be more appropriate. The court
emphasized that denunciation and deterrence would be the primary
objectives of any sentence handed down under the
Given the recent increase in investigations and prosecutions of
Canadian companies and individuals for bribing or concealing bribes
to foreign public officials, Canadian executives must carefully
consider their potential exposure to CFPOA liability. The
Karigar sentencing decision is a reminder that the CFPOA
is a criminal statute and that courts will look to the traditional
criminal sentencing principles of denunciation and deterrence in
arriving at a fit sentence for future bribery cases.
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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