Canada toughens foreign bribery law

Filed under - Politics and government

Posted 7 February 2013
lead image

Corruption has been a hot topic in Canada recently with a series of scandals involving both the public and private sectors making headlines. On 5 February, Canada’s federal government introduced amendments, which will strengthen the country’s main law aimed at bribery abroad.  The changes will make it easier for Canada to prosecute Canadians and Canadian companies who bribe or try to bribe foreign public officials.

The tightening of the legislation comes after continued pressure from Transparency International Canada, Transparency International and the OECD, which criticised Canada for failing to take a strong stance against foreign bribery.

The OECD introduced its anti-bribery convention in 1997.  The convention obliged member states to introduce legislation making the paying of bribes to foreign officials illegal.  Canada adopted its Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) to fulfil its obligations under that convention but did almost nothing to enforce the law until recently.

If legislative change follows the recent announcements by the Canadian government, as is expected, several loopholes that could allow companies to escape the anti-bribery provisions of the law will be closed and Canadian law in this area will fall into line with similar laws in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Continued improvements

Transparency International has monitored the progress of countries in implementing the OECD anti-bribery convention. We have published six yearly assessments of countries and ranked them based on the number of foreign bribery cases they prosecute. In the 2010 report Canada’s was assessed as having “little or no enforcement” and both TI Canada and the OECD stepped up its advocacy.

In the 2012 report, Canada received a ranking of ‘moderate enforcement’ and was cited for its improvement. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the national investigative agency, had about 35 investigations under way in 2012 – the highest since the CFPOA was passed.

In January this year, after an investigation and guilty plea, the courts handed out the largest fine to date, US$10.35 million, to a Calgary-based oil company for bribing an official of the government of Chad.

Once the Canadian law has been amended, organisations such as Transparency International Canada will continue to apply pressure for effective enforcement of the legislation.  “If the political will is there, Canada can become a leader in the fight against international corruption,” said TI Canada’s Chair and President Janet Keeping.

Carousel image: Creative Commons, Flickr / SqueakyMarmot

Press contact(s):

Chris Sanders
Manager, Media and Public Relations
E: press@transparency.org
T: +49 30 3438 20 666

Country / Territory - Canada   |   Chad   
Region - Middle East and North Africa   |   Americas   
Topic - Accountability   |   Law enforcement   |   Politics and government   |   Private sector   |   Public procurement   

By leaving a comment, you acknowledge the terms of use for our comments board.

Stay informed

Related news

Unpacking the key anti-corruption ingredients for constitutions

We take a look at how the constitutional design of a country can make or break its fight against corruption.

Integrity pacts: keeping public contracts corruption-free

Each year, governments spend trillions of dollars on public procurement. Our new guide shows how to keep those contracts clean.

A tribute to Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa

The winner of Transparency International’s 2010 Integrity Award passes away.

Related publications

Publication cover image

Integrity pacts in public procurement: an implementation guide

The Integrity Pact (IP) is a powerful tool developed by Transparency International to help governments, businesses and civil society fight corruption ...

Report published – Apr 2014

Publication cover image

Policy brief 01/2014: Gender, equality and corruption: what are the linkages?

Gender inequality and corruption are closely inter-linked. Gender inequalities undermine good governance, sustainable growth, development outcomes ...

Policy position published – Apr 2014