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OECD report challenges widely-held assumptions on foreign bribery

The majority of foreign bribes were paid by large companies, usually with the knowledge of senior management, to officials from developed countries to win contracts and cut through red tape, reveals an eye-opening report from a leading think tank that shatters many commonly-held preconceptions about corruption risks.

The report by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which analyzed 427 foreign bribery cases over the past 15 years, should prompt companies to review and tailor their anti-corruption compliance programs, particularly since nearly a third of the cases occurred in the extractive and construction sector, areas where Canadians are big world players, say compliance experts.

“It’s possible to do business without corruption,” said Milos Barutciski, the co-head of international trade at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto. …

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Crime Quebec Quebec Court of Appeal Rulings White-collar crimes

Mayor accused of corruption and fraud must pay for own defence, rules appeal court

The former mayor of a Montreal bedroom community facing corruption-related charges will have to foot her own legal defence bills after the Quebec Court of Appeal held that the municipality did not have to pay for her defence because the alleged acts did not take place while she was performing duties of an elected member.

The precedent-setting ruling sends a clear message to elected municipal councillors who were counting on jurisprudence and the seemingly clear-cut wording of the Quebec Cities and Towns Act to compel municipalities to cover their legal fees when faced with criminal proceedings, according to municipal law experts.

“It’s an important judgment because it will provide guidance to municipalities who face similar circumstances,” remarked Daniel Bouchard, the managing partner of the Quebec City office for Lavery, de Billy. “Municipalities will now systematically refuse to pay.”…

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Business Legislation Public inquiries Quebec Quebec Superior Court Rulings White-collar crimes

Quebec companies barred from bidding on public contracts have little chance of obtaining legal relief

Companies that have been barred from bidding on public contracts stand little chance of obtaining injunctive relief that would temporarily suspend a new law aimed at curbing corruption in the construction industry, following a closely-watched ruling by Quebec Superior Court.

In the wake of allegations of bribes, collusion, influence peddling, and widespread corruption in the construction industry, corroborated by testimony before the Charbonneau commission, the Quebec government passed legislation last December that compels companies to obtain a seal of integrity if they wish to bid on the billion dollars in contracts awarded annually in the Quebec public sector.…

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Barreau du Quebec Public inquiries Quebec White-collar crimes

Damage control: Quebec’s professional corporations

The professional corporations overseeing lawyers and engineers declared recently that they now intend to get even tougher on crooked professionals. Zero tolerance, declared Nicholas Plourde, who stepped down earlier this month as the head of the Quebec bar. The president of the Quebec engineering professional corporation stated that his organization is “determined to get to the heart of the matter and restore public trust.”

Following a parade of arrests made by the province’s anti-corruption police unit and troubling revelations disclosed by Quebec's inquiry into allegations of corruption and construction-industry wrongdoing, the reputation of lawyers has been sullied and the standing of engineers in tatters.

All of which begs the question: how effective is the oversight of Quebec’s professional corporations? …

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Business Corporate law Legal Practice Management

Dodd-Frank Act – Americans mean business

When General Electric Company agreed last August to pay US$23.4 million to settle charges laid by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its involvement in a US$3.6 million kickback scheme with Iraqi government agencies to win contracts to supply medical and water purification equipment, it was the latest of an impressive long list of multinationals that paid the price of Washington’s newfound resolve to crack down on corporate bribery.

The Americans now mean business. Largely dormant since becoming law in 1977, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the SEC have over the past two years vigorously enforced the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), going so far as to launch sting operations while levying penalties unimaginable a couple of years ago.

The Dodd-Frank Act provides the SEC with more enforcement tools and wider jurisdiction and most notably introduces an eye-catching whistleblower bounty -- all of which should cause concern for Canadian companies even though the full impact of the new law has yet to be determined.…

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