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Civil Enforcement of Canada’s Foreign Corruption Law?

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A guest post by Graeme Hamilton and Omar Madhany (both with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Toronto).

Perhaps the starkest difference between the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Canada’s foreign corruption law—the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA)—is the fact that the CFPOA may only be enforced criminally.  As a result, enforcement authorities in Canada are held to the higher criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt when negotiating with a company to resolve a CFPOA investigation or contemplating whether to bring CFPOA charges.

The lack of a civil enforcement mechanism for the CFPOA is often cited as one of the main reasons for the disparity between the volume of foreign corruption enforcement activity in the U.S. and Canada.  A recent settlement announced by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) with Katanga Mining Ltd. (Katanga), however, may signal the beginning of a shift in this landscape by establishing a role for Canada’s securities regulators in tackling foreign corruption from a civil context.

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Issues To Consider From Recent Enforcement Actions

Issues

Previous posts here and here highlighted the late December 2018 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against Eletrobras and Polycom. This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

Timelines

As highlighted in this previous post, in June 2015 it was reported that Eletrobras hired a law firm to investigate FCPA issues. Thus, the company’s FCPA scrutiny appears to have lasted approximately 3.5 years. Once again, if the SEC wants its FCPA enforcement program to be viewed as legitimate and credible, it must resolve instances of FCPA scrutiny much quicker.

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No Shut Down For FCPA Enforcement

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The last week of December has traditionally been an active week for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement. However, with the partial government shutdown there was an open question what would happen with the end of 2018.

Yesterday, the SEC answered that question by announcing two enforcement actions: (i) a $2.5 million action against Brazil-based Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras S.A. (Eletrobras); and (ii) a $16 million action against Polycom.

This post highlights the Electrobras enforcement action and another post will highlight the Polycom enforcement action

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Further To The SEC’s Inconsistent Approach To Enforcing The FCPA’s Books And Records And Internal Controls Provisions

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As highlighted in previous posts on this subject (herehere and here), a basic rule of law principle is consistency.

In other words, the same legal violation ought to be sanctioned in the same way. When the same legal violation is sanctioned in materially different ways, trust and confidence in law enforcement is diminished.

However, there sure does seem to be a lack of consistency between how the SEC resolves Foreign Corrupt Practices Act books and records and internal controls violations.

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Vantage Drilling Resolves Rather Unusual $5 Million FCPA Enforcement Action

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Yesterday, the SEC announced this rather unusual Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Vantage Drilling.

What made it rather unusual is that the administrative action only found violations of the FCPA’s internal controls provisions concerning its unique relationship with a former outside director and shareholder that “created a risk that [the company] was providing or reimbursing funds that [the Director] intended to use to make improper payments to officials at Petrobras” in connection with obtaining a drilling services contract.

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