Canada to toughen laws against bribery abroad

Tue Feb 5, 2013 4:14pm EST

* Canada acting in wake of foreign bribery conviction

* Maximum penalty to rise to 14 years in jail

OTTAWA Feb 5 (Reuters) - Canada will toughen its laws to be better able to combat corruption by Canadian businesses at home and abroad, the government said on Tuesday following the recent bribery conviction of a Calgary oil company.

"Our government ... expects Canadian business to play by the rules. Canadian companies can compete with the best and win fairly," Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement.

Baird said existing laws on the bribery of foreign officials would be amended to grant the government jurisdiction over all Canadian nationals and Canadian companies, regardless of where alleged crimes took place. That would make it easier to prosecute cases in foreign countries, he said.

Canada will also raise the maximum penalty for bribing a foreign official to 14 years from the current five years.

In January, a Calgary-based oil company that admitted to bribing the wife of a Chadian diplomat in Canada to secure an oil and gas contract agreed to pay a C$10.35 million ($10.35 million) fine.

Also last month, a Canadian police document released by the courts revealed that authorities believe a son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi received $162 million in bribes for giving major contracts in Libya to Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Inc.

The allegations surrounding the Libyan contracts have not been proven in court. SNC, which has said that any wrongdoing was the work of a small number of former employees, says it is cooperating with the police investigations.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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