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?
- 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.
- Second, corporate entities will not be protected if illegal activities are discovered after they have blindly relied on the assurances of outside counsel.
- Third, cooperating with authorities once wrongdoing has been discovered and implementing robust compliance procedures can reduce penalties resulting from such misconduct.
- 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