Canada hikes jail time for foreign bribery

Posted at 02/06/13 8:58 AM

OTTAWA - Canada's top diplomat announced Tuesday tougher penalties for companies convicted of bribing foreign officials and proposed legislative amendments to make it easier to prosecute lawbreakers.

"Legislation was introduced in the senate today in order to reform and deter Canadian companies from bribing foreign public officials," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said.

"These changes will ensure that Canadian companies continue to carry out their activities in good faith in the context of liberalized trade."

The current law makes it a criminal offense in Canada for persons or companies to bribe foreign public officials to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of international business.

The amendments would allow the government to lay charges regardless of where the alleged bribery took place, do away with an exception for "facilitation payments," and raise the maximum jail term for convictions to 14 years in jail, from five.

In addition, the words "for profit" were removed in the definition of business.

Only three companies have been convicted so far under the existing anti-bribery act: Griffiths Energy for bribing officials to secure oil and gas contracts in Chad; Niko Resources for allowing a Bangladesh minister use of a luxury car in exchange for favors; and Hydro-Kleen Group for bribing a US immigration officer.

Two cases are pending and there are 35 ongoing investigations.

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