On January 25, 2013, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench approved a $10.35 million penalty against Griffiths Energy International Inc. (Griffiths) for a violation of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act1 (CFPOA) in connection with the actions of the company’s previous management and representatives in Chad, Africa (the Griffiths Judgment).
Although the CFPOA has been in force since 1999, the Griffiths conviction joins the conviction of Niko Resources Inc. (Niko) in June of 2011 (The Niko Order) as only the second significant conviction rendered under Canada’s foreign anti-corruption legislation to date, and as such constitutes important guidance regarding the position of the Courts, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Crown in respect of the prosecution of foreign corrupt practices.
This legal update reviews the facts of the Griffiths conviction, compares them to the Niko Order where insightful, and discusses lessons to be considered going forward by Canadian individuals and organizations facing foreign anti-corruption risk in connection with their business operations. This includes consideration of a number of important legal issues related to the enforcement of the CFPOA as well as anti-corruption liability and risk mitigation in general, including (i) the influence of self-reporting as a mitigating factor, (ii) the CFPOA’s broad definition of corrupt practices, (iii) lessons for directors, (iv) the role of US FCPA precedent, (v) the treatment of proceeds of criminal activity, (vi) matters related to jurisdiction, and (vii) anti-corruption risks associated with third party agents.
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