On December 2, 2014, the OECD published its Foreign Bribery Report. The report reviews the
first 15 years of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of
Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and
its application through the anticorruption laws adopted by the 41
signatory countries, such as Canada's Corruption of Foreign
Public Officials Act, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and
the U.K. Bribery Act.
The report's analysis of the 427 cases of corruption since
the Convention came into force in 1999 shows the following:
In over half of the cases, bribes were approved by corporate
management – namely, by management-level employees (41%) or
by chief executive officers (12%).
Employees of state-controlled businesses were the main
recipients of the bribes (27%), followed by customs agents (11%),
public health organization agents (7%) and agents from the defence
Two-thirds of the cases concerned four sectors in particular:
extractive (19%), construction (15%), transportation and
warehousing (15%) and information and communication (10%).
Nearly half of the cases involved public officials from highly
In three cases out of four, bribes were paid through
intermediaries, including commercial agents, distributors and local
brokers, as well as legal entities located in financial centres or
Among the reasons that motivated offenders were obtaining
public contracts (57%), facilitating customs procedures (12%),
obtaining an advantageous fiscal treatment (6%), obtaining a permit
(4%) and obtaining confidential information (4%).
A total of 261 fines were imposed, the heaviest being €1.8
According to the same report, a third of the cases originated
from the offenders themselves. In addition, among the cases of
businesses voluntarily reporting themselves, 31% surfaced through
internal control mechanisms, and 28% were discovered in the course
of pre-transactional due diligence.
Although the report has, by its own admission, a restricted
scope due to the limited number of resolved cases, it nonetheless
paints a useful picture of the challenges faced by businesses as
well as by the authorities since the Convention came into force. To
address these challenges, the report recommends greater
investigative powers for the authorities and reinforced integrity
measures regarding the granting of public contracts. This trend has
already emerged in Canada in the last few years.
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In R v Villaroman, the Supreme Court of Canada recently dealt with the issue of circumstantial evidence and the inferences that can be reasonably drawn from that evidence in order to find an accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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