Business ethics and anti-corruption
The Canadian Perspective
Doing business internationally exposes companies to an increasingly complex, multi-national legal framework.
Canada has several statutes aimed at preventing and punishing corrupt and fraudulent practices abroad, including the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA). The basic purpose of the CFPOA is to prohibit Canadian companies from offering various forms of advantage or benefit to foreign government officials. As such, the CFPOA makes it an offence to obtain (or retain) an advantage in the course of business by giving, offering or agreeing to give a “loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind” to a foreign public official or to any person for the benefit of a foreign public official.
Companies that are not in compliance with the requirements of statutes such as the CFPOA, Canada’s Criminal Code, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act may be subject to punitive measures that can include fines, imprisonment and debarment from participation in future government tenders. In addition, certain government contracts and contracts funded by development banks include terms that prohibit corrupt practices and provide for disqualification from participation in government and other tenders.
The International Perspective
Several other countries also have anti-corruption legislation with broad consequences for Canadian companies. In the United Kingdom, the Bribery Act, 2010, contains provisions applicable domestically and extraterritorially by not only creating various bribery offences, but also mandating that commercial organizations can face criminal responsibility for failing to prevent persons associated with them from committing bribery on their behalf. It is extremely important that businesses develop adequate organization-wide safeguards for preventing bribery.
In the United States, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA), makes it an offence, in basic terms, to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Non-American businesses and individuals are subject to the FCPA if they have issued securities in the United States or if the corrupt practice has a territorial connection to the United States (for example, if a wire transfer in connection to a bribe was made from an American bank). The FCPA also includes rigorous record keeping requirements for publicly-traded companies.
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