At the G20 summit held September 5-6, 2013, leaders vowed to share information to improve international collaboration in the fight against bribery and corruption. The anti-corruption enforcement landscape is likely to intensify against multinational companies. The G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group is co-chaired by Canada and Russia.

In a progress report published in September 2013, the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group again stressed the importance of fostering a culture of intolerance towards corruption and the need to bolster legislation and enforcement of anti-corruption laws. In 2013, Saudi Arabia ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), leaving only two G20 members who have not yet ratified. Sixteen G20 states are now a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and most of those who are not a party are engaging on a regular basis with the OECD Working Group.

The working group has, among other things, established a network of contact points in each G20 government "to enable authorities to share information, and to identify and deny entry to our countries of corrupt officials." The working group is also focused on removing incentives for corruption, and "G20 governments have supported measures to stop money laundering, to identify those who are the true owners and controllers of legal entities and arrangements (beneficial ownership) and to recover illicitly obtained assets hidden abroad."

The working group is continuing their efforts to increase the fairness and transparency through which governments procure goods and services, and has begun the process of developing best practices for procurement together with the OECD. The working group is also assessing how to address transparency in other sectors that are particularly vulnerable to corruption, including the organization of sporting, cultural, and other major international events, as well as in the extraction and construction industries.

In Co-Chairing the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, Canada is taking a lead in the global battle against corruption. Domestically, Canada has itself gained significant momentum this past year in fostering a culture of intolerance towards corruption through enacting more stringent legislation with a broader reach in an effort to stem corruption by Canadians or Canadian companies, obtaining two corporate convictions resulting in multi-million dollar fines, and having the first trial and subsequent conviction of an individual under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, Mr. Karigar.

Companies should be aware of this zero-tolerance stance towards corruption that the international community is taking, with Canada at the forefront of the charge, and ensure they are compliant with the new, more strict regulations. For more information on the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act amendments, see our previous alert.