More and more Canadian companies themselves are reporting allegations of bribery and corruption to the RCMP in order to avoid criminal prosecution that could put executives in jail and harm their businesses.
RCMP Inspector Denis Beaudoin of the National Division’s Sensitive and International Investigations Unit said Canadian businesses were benefiting from a 2018 Criminal Code amendment that could allow them to pay financial penalties rather than be tried and sentenced under the Federal Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
The introduction of redress agreements in 2018 – often referred to by their American name: deferred prosecution agreements – offers pre-trial alternatives for dealing with alleged corporate wrongdoing. They require a company to cooperate substantially with police and prosecutors.
Deferred prosecution agreements were put in the national spotlight in early 2019, when The Globe and Mail reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his key aides tried to persuade Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was Attorney General to pass. besides federal prosecutors and grant one in Montreal. founded engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. on charges of fraud and corruption.
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“What we’re seeing is definitely an increase in self-reporting,” said Insp. Beaudoin said in an interview. “Companies going from virtually none before September 2018, [when the law came into effect] where we have them every year now.
Insp. Beaudoin did not specify how many companies reported to the RCMP, but added that there were “several” each year.
In most cases, new business leaders find out what looks like a bribe payment and take the allegation to the RCMP. Those responsible often funnel money through a subcontractor, who then pays a government official in the country where they want to get a contract.
Most of the corruption cases the mounted police are investigating concern companies in the mining, engineering and construction sector, Insp. said Beaudoin.
“Normally, they call us because the act has already taken place and they found out after the fact and they are afraid of what could happen, so they decide to call us to do an investigation,” he said. declared.
Even with the self-declaration, Insp. Beaudoin says it takes three to four years to complete an investigation and refer the case to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to decide whether to grant a deferred prosecution agreement.
Yet having Canadian companies reporting corruption allegations saves time and money, as overseas investigations of such crimes are complex and require the assistance of police in affected countries. , Insp. said Beaudoin.
Under the remediation law, companies can avoid prosecution if they undertake corporate governance reforms, pay hefty fines, and turn over all available evidence of corruption by employees or contractors.
Companies prefer to seek a remedy agreement because a criminal conviction would prevent them from bidding on government contracts in Canada for up to five years, and up to 10 years in many other jurisdictions.
In August 2019, Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion concluded that Mr. Trudeau had violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressing Ms. Wilson-Raybould to order the Director of the Public Prosecution Service, Kathleen Roussel, to grant an agreement to defer prosecution.
The prosecution refused to do so because of the seriousness of the offenses. They focused on allegations that the company paid $ 48 million to influence the award of government contracts under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and defrauded various Libyan organizations of around $ 130 million.
In December 2019, a division of SNC-Lavalin pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud and agreed to pay a fine of $ 280 million.
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