Canada Is Aboard the Anti-Corruption Express

For many years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) considered Canada a laggard when it came to anti-corruption enforcement. However, in a recent speech, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stated that Canada is "redoubling" its fight against bribery and corruption. "Canadian companies can compete with the best and win fairly," Baird said.

The evidence supports Baird's statement. In 2008, Canada created a 15-person International Anti-Corruption Unit within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). And since 2011, Canada has undertaken at least three significant anti-corruption prosecutions. In 2013, it charged a former SNC-Lavalin senior executive with bribery in connection with the giant engineering firm's payments to Bangladeshi officials. The charges are part of an ongoing RCMP investigation of SNC-Lavalin that in 2013 also resulted in bribery charges against its former CEO and a 10-year SNC-Lavin debarment from bidding on World Bank projects.

Also in 2013, Canada toughened up its Corruption of Foreign Officials Act (CFPOA). It amended the law to —

  • Extend its reach to any Canadian company regardless of where the bribe was paid;
  • Increase maximum jail time for individuals from five to 14 years;
  • Add a books and records provision (under which it's now a crime to disguise a bribe as a legitimate business expense or keep double books); and
  • Phase out facilitation payments.

Four years ago, it was impossible to count the number of CFPOA investigations on one hand —because there were none to count. In 2013, there were 35 active CFPOA investigations. These changes prompted Transparency International, in its recently issued eighth annual progress report, to move Canada from the "little or no enforcement" category to the "moderate enforcement" category. Canada seems to be advancing in the realm of anti-corruption efforts.

WeComply’s upcoming CFPOA training course will provide employees with the Canada-specific knowledge they need to spot and prevent illegal payments. And because anti-corruption law enforcement is an international effort.