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Canada has formally repealed its exception for “facilitation payments” under its foreign anti-corruption legislation (the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act).

Canada’s anti-bribery law prohibits anyone from giving or offering a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind — directly or through intermediaries — to a foreign public official as consideration for an act or omission by the latter to obtain or retain a business advantage.

Facilitation payments, regularly made to help speed up the performance by a foreign public official of any act of a routine nature that is part of that person’s duties or functions, are now unlawful. Such payments include paying a foreign official to expedite permits, licences or other official documents or the processing of visas.

These types of payments may now lead to criminal prosecution in Canada. This amendment aligns Canada with other jurisdictions, including the UK, in criminalizing such payments, and goes further than the US FCPA (which retains an exception for facilitation payments).

Foreign bribery under Canadian law has broad jurisdictional reach and is punishable by up to 14 years in jail for individuals and unlimited fines for business. Importantly, convicted corporations may be barred from doing business with government for up to 10 years under Canada’s Integrity Regime and equivalent debarment policies in other jurisdictions.

The elimination of lawful facilitation payments is a reminder to Canadian multinational corporations that adopting effective anti-bribery compliance, due diligence, and monitoring programs is crucial to inoculating business from the severe risks of an anti-corruption violation.