by: Theresa Tedesco
Long considered a laggard for its anti-corruption efforts, Canada is now receiving high praise from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for its “continued enforcement momentum” on combating foreign corruption practises.
In a report by the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery, Ottawa’s initiatives to reform the federal Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in February were singled out by the international group. In particular, the OECD approved a proposed amendment to ensure that “the offense for bribery applies to all business, regardless of profit.” The amendments are the first significant changes proposed for the act since it was adopted in 1999.
The OECD’s anti-corruption group, which evaluated Canada’s implementation of an OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign officials, also noted that a proposed change also extends Canada’s anti-corruption jurisdictional scope so the RCMP can prosecute alleged bribery committed by Canadians and Canadian companies anywhere in the world without the burden of having to demonstrate a connection to this country.
The OECD, an international economic organization comprised of 34 major industrialized countries, has asked the federal government to report back on its progress by March, 2014.
Currently, the RCMP has 35 ongoing investigations into foreign bribery. Major among these cases is the blockbuster case against Canadian engineering giant SNC Lavalin Group Inc., and its alleged ties to the deposed regime of Mohamar Gadhafi in Libya. At issue are tens of millions of dollars, including millions the Montreal-based firm allegedly spent lavishing on the former dictator and his family.