Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act

    North America

    Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act

    The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act 1998 (‘the Act’) provides measures relating to the corruption of foreign public officials, and for the implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. In particular, the Act criminalises the bribery of a foreign public official, the maintaining or destruction of books and records to facilitate or hide the bribing of a such an official, as well as the conspiracy or attempt to commit those offences, and aiding and abetting in committing those offences. 

    Last Updated: July 30, 2019

  • Requirements


    Individuals commit an offence under the Act, and are deemed to bribe a foreign public official when (Section 3(1) of the Act):  

    • in order to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business, directly or indirectly gives, offers or agrees to give or offer a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind to a foreign public official or to any person for the benefit of a foreign public official; 
    • as consideration for an act or omission by the official in connection with the performance of the official’s duties or functions; or  
    • to induce the official to use his or her position to influence any acts or decisions of the foreign state or public international organization for which the official performs duties or functions. 

    If an individual is deemed to have committed an offence under Section 3(1) of the Act, they are guilty of an indictable offence and are liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years (Section 3(2) of the Act).  

    However, the Act further provides that individuals are not guilty of an offence under Section 3(1) of the Act if the loan, reward, advantage or benefit (Section 3(3) of the Act): 

    • is permitted or required under the laws of the foreign state or public international organisation for which the foreign public official performs duties or functions; or  
    • was made to pay the reasonable expenses incurred in good faith by or on behalf of the foreign public official, that are directly related to  
    • the promotion, demonstration or explanation of the person’s products and services; or 
    • the execution or performance of a contract between the person and the foreign state for which the official performs duties or functions. 


    In addition, individuals are deemed to commit an offence under the Act when, for the purpose of bribing a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business or for the purpose of hiding that bribery, they (Section 4(1) of the Act): 

    • establish or maintain accounts which do not appear in any of the books and records that they are required to keep in accordance with applicable accounting and auditing standards;  
    • make transactions that are not recorded in those books and records, or that are inadequately identified in them; 
    • record non-existent expenditures in those books and records; 
    • enter liabilities with incorrect identification of their object in those books and records; 
    • knowingly use false documents; or 
    • intentionally destroy accounting books and records earlier than permitted by law. 

    Individuals who are found to have infringed the accounting provisions of Section 4(1) of the Act are also guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years (Section 4(2) of the Act).  

    Offences outside Canada 

    Moreover, Section 5(1) of the Act outlines that every individual who commits an act or omission outside Canada that, if committed in Canada would constitute an offence under Sections 3 or 4 of the Act or a conspiracy to commit, an attempt to commit, being an accessory after the fact in relation to, or any counselling in relation to, an offence under that section, is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada if the person is: 

    • a Canadian citizen; 
    • a permanent resident and who, after the commission of the act or omission, is present in Canada; or 
    • a public body, corporation, society, company, firm or partnership that is incorporated, formed or otherwise organised under the laws of Canada or a province. 
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