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Canada conviction in India bribe scheme based on ‘circumstantial evidence’

A Canadian man faces up to 14 years in prison after being the first individual convicted under Canada’s foreign anti-corruption law.

Indian-born Nazir Karigar was found guilty of conspiring to bribe Indian officials in a failed attempt to win an airport security contract.

Karigar, 65, worked for Ottawa-based CryptoMetrics. He was helping the company sell a face-recognition system to state-owned Air India.

Three prior convictions under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act were against corporate defendants after they pleaded guilty.

The Canadian government’s investigation of Karigar began in June 2007 when it was tipped about the alleged graft. He was arrested in May 2010 and put on trial in September last year.

He was charged with one count of corruption. Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, enacted in 1999, makes it an offense to ‘directly or indirectly give or offer a loan, reward, advantage, or benefit of any kind to a foreign public official ‘in order to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business.’

Prosecutors said Karigar arranged a $200,000 bribe for an Air India official who had the power to influence award of the security project. A second bribe of $250,000 was intended for then-minister of civil aviation Praful Patel.

Karigar had pleaded not guilty, arguing there was no evidence of actual payment or receipt of the bribes.

But Justice Charles Hackland of the Ontario Superior Court said Karigar was ‘an active and knowledgeable’ conspirator from 2005 to 2008, whether or not the bribes were actually paid.

The judge said it wasn’t practical in a cross-border case to require prosecutors to produce foreign evidence proving payment or receipt of bribes.

It was enough for a conviction, he said in his August 15 decision, to have circumstantial evidence. He cited emails to and from Karigar that referred to the bribery scheme, and records of money transfers from CryptoMetrics’ U.S. unit to Karigar’s bank account.


Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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