January 11, 2019

Canadian court rules that bribery of a foreign public official under CFPOA is a specific intent offense

On January 11, 2019, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice convicted two individuals under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials (CFPOA).  The case concerned alleged agreements to bribe (i) the Indian Minister of Civil Aviation and (ii) two Air India employees.  Both bribes were allegedly provided in exchange for the bribe recipients’ commitment to procure Air India contracts for Cryptometrics Canada Inc.  The government charged Robert Barra (the CEO of Cryptometrics’ parent company and a US citizen) and Shailesh Govindia (a third party agent in India) with making the alleged bribes.  

The Court convicted Barra and Govindia in connection with the bribe payments made to the Indian minister.  However, the Court acquitted them with respect to the bribe payments made to the Air India employees.  The Court found that the CFPOA requires a bribe payor to have “knowledge” that the bribe recipient was a “foreign public official,” and concluded that the government had failed to prove that the defendants had such knowledge with respect to the Air India employees.  

The decision is currently being appealed.