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Canada has formally repealed its exception for “facilitation payments” under its foreign anti-corruption legislation (the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act).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


Peter MacKay is a partner in the Baker McKenzie Toronto office. Prior to joining the Firm in 2016, Peter MacKay, PC, QC (Privy Council and Queen's Counsel), served in the Parliament of Canada for over 18 years and in a ministerial post in the Canadian government for almost ten years after the Conservative Party formed a government in 2006. Most recently, he served as Canada's Attorney General and Minister of Justice until November 2015, a position to which he was appointed in 2013. Prior to this post, Peter served as the Minister of National Defence for six years and held joint cabinet positions as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for 18 months.