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Report highly critical of Canada’s foreign anti-bribery practices

|Written By Andi Balla

Canada’s enforcement of the foreign bribery offences act is attracting a lot of attention this week, following the release of a highly critical report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The OECD report, made public yesterday, says Canada’s regime for enforcement of its Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act remains problematic in important areas. It also calls for urgent action to boost efforts to prosecute Canadian companies and individuals for their actions involving foreign officials.

“Although Canada has recently made progress in investigating the bribery of foreign public officials by Canadian businesses, Canada has only completed one prosecution since it enacted its foreign bribery law in 1999,” notes the OECD report.

The report warns that Canada’s ability to successfully prosecute these investigations will be in jeopardy unless the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is given the resources it needs to prosecute the large volume of cases that may soon follow the investigations.

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It adds that given the size of Canada’s economy and its high-risk industries — oil, gas, and mining — Canada should review its law and approach to enforcement.

The working group behind the report also says it welcomes Canada’s recent enforcement efforts, as the country now has more than 20 CFPOA investigations and one ongoing prosecution.

“Recent progress in investigating CFPOA violations is largely due to the establishment of the RCMP International Anti-Corruption Unit, which has been making substantial efforts to investigate allegations of the bribery of foreign public officials and raise awareness of the offence,” says the report.

Canadian companies need to be aware now more than ever about their actions abroad and what constitutes a violation of Canadian laws in this area, lawyers with Miller Canfield LLP told a Toronto audience at a seminar this morning.

They also warned that in an addition to Canadian regulations, companies based in this country and doing business overseas need to prepare to comply with stricter U.S. and U.K. anti-bribery laws, which often end up affecting Canadian companies.

This afternoon, a group of top expert and enforcement officials will also discuss the subject at a University of Toronto Faculty of Law event.

Canadian Lawyer InHouse will offer more coverage on this topic in the coming days and weeks.

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