On May 23, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court sentenced Mr. Nazir
Karigar, an Ottawa-based business executive, to a three-year prison
term for attempting to bribe foreign public officials. This
judgment marks the first time an individual has been found guilty and convicted
under Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials
Act (CFPOA). Enacted in 1998, the CFPOA
criminalizes the offering of bribes or other advantages to foreign
public officials, and is Canada's equivalent to the United
States' Foreign Corrupt Practices
The court held that Karigar, 67, conspired with employees and
associates of Cryptometrics Canada in Ottawa in an effort to win a
$100 million security contract with Air India. He arranged illicit
payments for officials of Air India and an Indian Cabinet Minister.
Karigar's defense counsel submitted that Karigar's age and
his lack of prior criminal involvement, as well as
Cryptometric's ultimate failure to receive the contract, should
be considered as mitigating factors in sentencing, and requested a
conditional sentence. In his judgment, Judge Charles Hackland
rejected the notion that Karigar should avoid jail, noting a list
of aggravating factors, namely that:
(a) this was a sophisticated and
carefully planned bribery scheme intended to involve senior public
officials. If successful, it would have involved the payment of
millions of dollars over time;
(b) Karigar's participation in the
bidding process involved other dishonest elements
(e.g., entry of fake competitive bids to
create the illusion of a competitive bidding process and the
receipt and use of confidential insider information);
(c) Karigar consistently behaved with
what the judge called a sense of entitlement, candidly relating to
a Canadian Trade Commissioner that bribes had been paid, and then
urging the Canadian Government to assist in closing the
(d) Karigar personally conceived of
and orchestrated the bribery proposal, including providing the
identity of the targeted officials and the proposed payment amount,
which was reflected in financial spreadsheets he helped to
Ultimately, Judge Hackland found that Karigar had played a
leading role in the conspiracy and determined that the three-year
prison term was necessary in light of the "paramount and
overriding consideration" of denunciation and deterrence.
While the CFPOA was amended in 2013 to increase the maximum prison
term to 14 years, Karigar was charged under the old legislation,
meaning that the maximum sentence he could have received was five
years in prison. The Crown had been seeking a four-year term.
This case establishes a precedent for future cases involving
Canadian companies conducting business abroad. Referring to
Canada's obligations under the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery in
International Business Transactions, the Court
stressed that bribery of foreign public officials should be subject
to the same sanctions as would be applied to the bribery of
Canadian public officials. The Court further added that "[t]he
idea that bribery is simply a cost of doing business in many
countries, and should be treated as such by Canadian firms
competing for business in those countries, must be
The Karigar case marks only the 4th
conviction under the CFPOA since its enactment. All three prior
cases involved conviction only of the corporate entities, not of
individuals, and were resolved by way of guilty pleas as well as
fines ranging up to over $10 million. Dozens of investigations,
however, are said to be in progress, as Canada steps up its
enforcement efforts against corruption both at home and abroad.
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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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