On January 25, 2013, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Scott Brooker accepted a joint submission by the Crown and the lawyer of Griffiths Energy International Inc., a private, Calgary-based oil and gas company, on a single count of bribery under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA). The charge arose from GEI’s illegal payment of US $2 million to Chadian officials, a transaction described by Justice Brooker as “an embarrassment to all Canadians.” After extensively cooperating with authorities in Canada and the U.S., GEI was fined CDN $10.35 million.

What can Canadian companies learn from this case?

  1. First, Canadian businesses engaged in overseas ventures must not assume that establishing a clever corporate structure will insulate themselves from the reach of the CFPOA.
  2. Second, corporate entities will not be protected if illegal activities are discovered after they have blindly relied on the assurances of outside counsel.
  3. Third, cooperating with authorities once wrongdoing has been discovered and implementing robust compliance procedures can reduce penalties resulting from such misconduct.
  4. Fourth, the case of GEI makes clear that outside counsel must carefully identify, investigate, and resolve red flags in third-party consulting agreements prior to moving forward with similar types of transactions.Read more here