Skip to main content
//empty //empty

The officer in charge of criminal operations at the RCMP’s national division said the police force is investigating cases in which companies have reported allegations of corruption that have come to their attention within their organizations.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

The RCMP are investigating at least two cases of alleged foreign corruption that could lead to the first tests of a deferred prosecution agreement in the Canadian judicial system, a senior RCMP investigator says.

Deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) generated much controversy last year after SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. tried to get such a deal, but have not been used in Canada since they came into law in 2018. Companies, law firms and others are awaiting a real-life example of how the process works in comparison with such arrangements in other countries.

In an interview, the officer in charge of criminal operations at the RCMP’s national division said the police force is investigating cases in which companies have reported allegations of corruption that have come to their attention within their organizations. In a DPA, such companies could admit wrongdoing and pay a fine, avoiding a trial and conviction.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have accepted a couple of investigations recently,” Superintendent Mike MacLean said. “At this point, we are in the analysis and preparation stage. We still have to finalize our investigation and present the results to the Crown attorney.”

The federal government amended the Criminal Code in 2018 to allow DPAs. Under the Canadian system, companies would have to report allegations to the RCMP, which would then investigate. The Mounties present their evidence to Crown attorneys, who can initiate negotiations on a DPA with the company.

Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin waged a lobbying campaign in 2018 and 2019 for a DPA to avoid a criminal trial on charges of fraud and bribery related to activities in Libya, but the Public Prosecution Service of Canada denied the engineering firm’s request. Charges had already been laid by the time SNC made the request.

In December, the company and prosecutors announced a deal in which SNC’s construction division pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud. It will pay a $280-million fine and receive a three-year probation order, during which it will hire an independent consulting firm to monitor the company’s compliance and ethics programs, and publish the reports on its website. A charge of bribery under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act was dropped.

The deal came shortly after former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president Sami Bebawi was found guilty of five charges, including bribing a foreign public official, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime.

Supt. MacLean said DPAs will likely become more frequent once companies see how they work.

“After discussions with some defence counsels across the country, they are of the opinion that once we get that test case we’re able to be successful with, we’ll see more people and more companies coming forward,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Riyaz Dattu, a Toronto international trade lawyer who advises companies on compliance and conducts internal investigations, said in an interview last year that companies still have many questions about DPAs.

“There really is no clarity we can offer clients on voluntary disclosures, as opposed to waiting and having the RCMP knock on your door,” he said.

Supt. MacLean said the case of SNC-Lavalin showed that the RCMP can investigate and obtain a conviction involving a company’s conduct on foreign soil.

He said companies that bring their case to the RCMP stand to have more success, but that a DPA could be available in other circumstances.

“In a perfect world, you’d want that pro-active disclosure up front. But I think we will see companies that aren’t aware at the time, and become aware through different witnesses or international partners, come forward,” he said.

Supt. MacLeod said the RCMP were pleased with the results of its investigation into SNC-Lavalin, which started in 2012.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s nice to have a good story, but our stories take long to tell,” he said.

Supt. MacLean said the most important point is for everyone to know that the RCMP operate outside political influence.

“The key piece is that we are totally independent from anything government-related. We do a proper analysis independent of government, we work outside of government and we work with Crown attorneys for charges. We are in no way ever influenced by government to take on an investigation or to investigate or to identify targets," he said.

With a report from Sean Fine

Follow related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies