Patrick Rocca

Global corruption no longer tolerated

International Anti-Corruption Day, recognized today, is an opportunity to shed light on the fight against global corruption and its impact on democracy and the rule of law, says Toronto competition lawyer Michael Osborne.

The 2013 campaign focuses on how corruption hinders efforts to achieve the internationally agreed upon Millennium Development Goals, undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodes quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish, the International Anti-Corruption Day website states.

“The world doesn’t tolerate corruption anymore. Doing business without bribes needs to be the new norm for Canadian businesses," says Osborne, a partner with Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP. “Corruption doesn’t pay anymore.”

Corruption robs developing countries of 10 times what they receive in aid from rich countries, says Osborne.

Canada passed its own foreign corruption law, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA), in 1998 and, beginning in 2008, stepped up enforcement of the act.

In 2011, natural gas company Niko Resources pleaded guilty to bribing a Bangladeshi cabinet minister with cars and trips and paid a $9.5 million fine, Osborne says, noting this year Alberta-based Griffiths Energy International Inc. pleaded guilty to paying $2 million in bribes to government officials in Chad to secure oil and gas rights. Griffiths was fined $10.3 million.

Canada's first trial under the CFPOA also ended in 2013, with a guilty verdict against Nazim Karagar for conspiring to bribe Air India officials and an Indian cabinet minister.

Canada toughened the CFPOA in 2013 with a package of amendments that raised penalties to 14 years in jail, added an offence of falsifying books and records to hide bribery, and assumed nationality jurisdiction. The current exemption for so-called facilitation payments is due to be repealed shortly, adds Osborne.

Those looking to learn more, or spread the word about International Anti-Corruption Day, can tweet to @UNDP and @UNODC using the hashtag #IACD2013.

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