Canada’s Reputation is Tainted by Bribery and Abuse. Only Boards Can Rescue It.

Published in the Globe and Mail, March 5, 2013

The reputations of Canadian companies operating abroad are under serious attack. The attention of governments and the global private sector is being drawn to recent headlines such as “SNC bribery probe widens to Algeria,” “Bangladesh government accuses SNC exec of bribery,” “Griffiths Energy guilty of Chad bribery,” “Niko Resources pleads guilty to bribery charge,” “Forced labour alleged in Canadian-Eritrean mine project” and “Claims of sexual abuses in Tanzania blow to Barrick Gold.”

It is often said that reputations of individuals hard won over many years can be lost overnight. The same can equally be true, not only of individual companies, but also of entire sectors of a nation’s economy, if the bad apples’ actions in the sector taint the entire barrel.

The bad past and continuing behaviour of some companies could be affecting the reputation some of the most important parts of the Canadian economy. These include the infrastructure, mining and energy sectors. The headlines described above often trigger calls from activists and political parties to toughen up legislation that can curtail illegal or improper actions by Canadian corporations operating abroad. In the case of corruption, that is occurring with the recent Bill S-14 amendments to the formerly little-used Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. The hope is that additions of penalties for false accounts that hide bribery, along with the extension of the law to extra-territorial violations backed with stiff penalties of up to 14 years in jail, will reduce the number of bribery headlines….

Read the rest of this article on the Globe and Mail website.

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