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From Canada, First Overseas Antibribery Plea Deal

Niko Resources, a publicly traded oil and gas company based in Calgary, was fined C$9.5 million (US$9.7 million) after pleading guilty to bribing a Bangladeshi minister.

It was the first plea deal struck by a corporate defendant under Canada’s overseas antibribery law — the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA).

The investigation into Niko Resources was disclosed last year. The International Anti-Corruption Unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is in charge of investigations under the CFPOA.

The bribes included “a luxury SUV [Toyota Land Cruiser] and a trip to New York and Calgary,” according to a report Friday in the Global and Mail.

Niko’s conduct is “an embarrassment to all Canadians” and “a dark stain on Calgary’s proud reputation as the energy capital of Canada,” Justice Scott Brooker said at the sentencing.

The company cooperated in the investigation and spent C$900,000 to uncover the facts. No individuals have been charged. Niko’s plea deal included three years of probation, according to the press reports.

Riyaz Dattu, a lawyer with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto, sent us the story. He told the Globe and Mail: “It sends a very strong signal to Canadian companies that they can’t do business in the ‘local way.’”

“It’s an eye-opener. It’s a very significant case,” he said. “I think this is going to be a seminal case that Canadian companies that operate around the world are going to look at. And it gives an indication of the seriousness with which the Canadian government is going to be viewing the giving of bribes.”

Niko Resources Ltd trades on the Toronto Exchange under the symbol NKO.TO; it trades in the U.S. over the counter in the pink sheets under the symbol NKRSF.PK.

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