Canadian oil company fined for international corruption

Calgary oil company Griffiths Energy has been hit with a hefty fine after pleading guilty to international corruption charges relating to the bribery of African officials.

The Calgary Herald
reports that Griffiths Energy agreed to pay a fine CND$10.35 million after pleading guilty to the charges on Tuesday in the Calgary Court of Queen's Bench.

The company admitted paying a bribe of $2 million as well as providing exclusive opportunities to buy around four million founder shares to the Chad ambassador, his wife, and two other individuals, in order to obtain exclusive drilling rights to two blocks of land in Chad.

Griffiths is the second oil company from Calgary to be charged with international corruption in just the past two years. Niko Resources Ltd. pleaded guilty to similar charges in June 2011 under the same section of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

Griffiths has been forced to pay a substantially heftier fine, however, with its punitive payment exceeding Niko's by $850,000.

Janet Keeping, the president and chair of Transparency International Canada, hailed the decision as step in the right direction for disciplining the conduct of Canadian companies abroad.

"I think we're beginning to see Canadian courts taking violations of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act seriously," said Keeping.