The CBA supports federal anti-corruption legislation in Bill S-14, Fighting Foreign Corruption Act

  • March 06, 2013

OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) supports Bill S-14, Fighting Foreign Corruption Act, applauding the government’s efforts to strengthen the current Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA).

“The CBA fully endorses the government’s efforts to crack down on foreign corruption,” says Michael Osborne, a member of the CBA’s Anti-Corruption Team.  “The legal profession has an important role to play in the area of anti-corruption and anti-bribery, and we welcome the opportunity to speak out on this subject today.”

The CBA favours adding “nationality” jurisdiction to the legislation. While the previous law was designed to curb corruption outside of Canada, the lack of explicit nationality jurisdiction meant that there is uncertainty around bribes arranged and paid entirely outside Canada.

“This is a major weakness in the current law,” says Michael Osborne. “Adding national jurisdiction removes the uncertainty and relieves investigators and prosecutors of the need to localize elements of the offence or conspiracy to commit the offence within Canada.”

The CBA supports efforts to end facilitation payments and to ultimately remove an exception for facilitation payments from the CFPOA. (Facilitation payments are payments to a public official to expedite a routine governmental act that is part of the official's duties, and not to obtain or retain business or any other undue advantage. Facilitation payments are generally distinguished from outright bribery and corruption.)

Bill S-14 would repeal the current exemption for facilitation payments but then have Cabinet bring it into force at a later date. The CBA suggests that the section be removed from the bill and a separate bill be introduced later, so that Parliament can decide when the time is right to act on repealing the exemption.

“The CBA says that Canada should tread cautiously given the unfortunate reality that facilitation payments continue to be demanded in some countries, coupled with a lack of international consensus to eliminate the facilitation payments exception,” adds Michael Osborne.

Michael Osborne will appear before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm in Room 160-S, Centre Block. The CBA submission is available online.

The CBA is taking a proactive role in supporting the implementation and enforcement of corruption legislation. Its Anti-Corruption Team includes lawyers in private practice and in-house counsel from the International and Business Law Sections, as well as the CBA’s Canadian Corporate Counsel Association. The team was established to monitor and respond to matters involving corrupt practices, and to provide a resource centre for Canadian lawyers to learn about anti-corruption legislation, case law and compliance requirements.

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to supporting the rule of law, improvements in the law, and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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