Mountie’s Eye Corruption Cases Involving Canadian Firms and New Ways to Resolve Them – Canada News

RCMP’s anti-corruption investigators say they are investigating possible shady practices from several Canadian companies operating in parts of Africa, Eastern Europe and South America.

Companies involved in mining, infrastructure, aviation, rail, engineering and technology are susceptible to corruption, such as paying bribes to secure a contract, Mounties says with the force’s sensitive and international investigation section.

“These are all sectors that are at risk,” said Staff Sgt. St├ęphanie Rousseau, acting officer in charge of the section’s foreign anti-corruption team.

The team is responsible for investigating possible misconduct in violation of Canada’s law on the corruption of foreign government officials, which allows the RCMP to prosecute individuals or companies in cases with a significant connection to Canada.

Rousseau hopes Canadian companies will become more aware of the consequences of illegal behavior abroad.

“And we get the word that this is not a way of doing business,” she said during a recent interview, accompanied by other team members.

Mounties has another important message for Canadian companies: If they discover possible misconduct within their operations, tell the RCMP about it.

Businesses have now added incentives to do so, Mounties says.

Federal legislation enacted in 2018 provided prosecutors with a tool, known as a remedial agreement, to deal with a range of financial crimes in companies. The idea is to hold organizations accountable for misconduct, while avoiding some of the fallout from a criminal conviction for employees, shareholders and others who have done nothing wrong.

The company would have to take responsibility for the atrocities, pay a financial fine, impose compliance measures to prevent recurrence and make compensation to the victims.

A judge must also be convinced that the agreement is in the public interest and that the terms are reasonable, equitable and proportionate. If the judge approves the agreement, the criminal prosecution will be suspended.

Remediation agreements, also known as deferred prosecution agreements, became banner news in 2019 after Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin pushed for such an agreement in light of allegations of corruption and fraud in business in Libya – which set in motion a political firestorm in Ottawa.

Still, the prospect of avoiding prosecution has prompted some Canadian companies to sign up, the RCMP says, even though the force would not give numbers.

“With the advent of the Remedy Agreement regime in 2018, we’ve seen companies start revealing themselves, and we see some every year,” Rousseau said. “So we want to encourage that.”

Prior to the legislation, there was no benefit to companies in going to the police when questionable activities came to the attention of managers, RCMP Sgt. Matthieu Boulanger, an anti-corruption investigator.

“And it was more of a: ‘Well, we’re sitting on it, and if it’s not being reported, not being investigated, then it’s one thing less to deal with.”

Now, Boulanger said, a company can tell the RCMP about a creepy email implicating the company or the fact that an overseas agent is suddenly receiving higher commissions for no legitimate reason.

“Sometimes it may be that after the investigation is completed, we go back to the company and we say, ‘We do not see crime here. So thank you for your review and be on the right track,'” he said.

Other times, there may be more in the accusations. Ultimately, it will be up to the prosecutors to decide whether a remedy agreement is warranted.

Self-reporting can help companies find themselves caught up in overseas atrocities, but it can also make life easier for Mounties, as foreign corruption investigations can be complicated and lengthy.

“These are complex cases,” Boulanger said. “So for us, it’s not uncommon to investigate a particular case for three years.”

In some parts of the world, RCMP officers have difficulty obtaining the necessary documentation from foreign officials, or there may eventually be a lot of information to review.

“We’re talking about terabytes of data that we need to review to analyze and select what’s relevant,” Rousseau said. “It can be a little frustrating at times, but necessary.”

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