The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) is the Canadian legislation implementing its obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption. The CFPOA applies to persons and companies and makes it a criminal offence for persons or companies to bribe foreign public officials to obtain or retain a business advantage.
A person commits an offence if he/she – in order to obtain or retain an advantage – gives, offers or agrees to give or offer a benefit of any kind to a foreign public official or to any person for the benefit of a foreign public official (a) as consideration for an act by the official in connection with the official’s duties, or (b) to induce the official to use their position to influence any acts of the foreign state or public international organisation.
The CFPOA applies to bribery of foreign public officials when the offence is committed in whole or in part within Canada. Its provisions also apply to offences committed outside Canada by a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or an entity organised under Canadian law. The term ‘business’ has been interpreted to apply to the conduct of all business – not just ‘for profit’ business. Canada has announced its intention to eliminate the facilitation payments exception, but no date for the implementation of this amendment has been announced.
The maximum penalties for offences include 14 years’ imprisonment and millions in fines.
- Local law defence:
Payment is permissible where it is ‘permitted or required under the laws of the foreign state or public international organization’.
- Reasonable expenses defence:
Payment is permissible where it is a reasonable expenditure to build a business relationship (demonstrating, promoting, explaining products or performing contractual obligations with a foreign governments – entertainment is not included).
- Facilitation payments exception:
Payment is permissible for expediting the performance of routine government actions (obtaining permits, processing government documents, police protection, mail and utility services).