An assessment of Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act after 20 years

Prof. Joanna Harrington's research indicates more needs to be done, calls for review

Helen Metella - 15 October 2019

International law specialist Joanna Harrington has published a scholarly review of Canada's efforts to deter and punish the commission of bribery in foreign business transactions.

It has been 20 years since Canada first enacted legislation to give domestic effect to the Anti-Bribery Convention of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In her article, "Addressing the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials: Developments and Challenges within the Canadian Legal Landscape," Harrington calls for more work to be done to reconcile our foreign bribery laws with fundamental aspects of international law, such as immunities for both persons and organizations.

She calls for improvements in multijurisdictional co-operation between states and organizations such as the World Bank to enhance asset recovery and the return of proceeds of crime. She also identifies a need for greater clarity in defining the victims of a foreign bribery transaction.

First published online, with the print version forthcoming this fall, Harrington's article has been published by Cambridge University Press in The Canadian Yearbook of International Law.

As for the timing of this work, Harrington notes that Canada's record is due for review before the OECD's Working Group on Bribery in 2021. She also notes an Alberta connection, with three of the six convictions under Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act having involved Alberta companies.

Her research on anti-bribery and corruption laws - known as "ABC laws"- has led to invitations to present her findings at conferences in Canada and abroad, including a conference this past summer at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.