(Paris/Ottawa, October 30, 2017) French anti-corruption organisation Sherpa and Canadian mining watchdog MiningWatch Canada today released a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, raising their concerns regarding the apparent failure of Canadian authorities to investigate serious allegations of bribery regarding Kinross Gold’s mining activities in Mauritania. The organisations had submitted a detailed report and supporting documentation to the RCMP in December 2015. Similar allegations are currently under investigation by the FBI and the SEC in the United States.
It is the organisations’ view that the report raises serious concerns that Kinross Gold, directly and through subsidiaries, may have engaged in illegal business activities in its West African operations. The report is based on testimonies from whistleblowers – Kinross workers and/or former workers – along with corroborating information.
Sherpa director, renowned French lawyer William Bourdon, believes that the evidence should have been sufficient as the base for an investigation. Bourdon commented, “For reasons which we do not fully understand, despite the quality of the evidence presented – evidence specific to a major Canadian mining operator – the investigation in Canada seems to have been stalled or suspended.”
Bourdon confirmed that the organisations had had direct contacts with the RCMP, who indicated that they were not in a position to carry out substantial investigations.
The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is the only Canadian law that regulates the operation of Canadian companies operating outside the country. Jamie Kneen, spokesperson for MiningWatch Canada, said that his organisation has become disillusioned with the Act’s enforcement. “Canadian officials will acknowledge that Canadian companies may be involved in corruption, but it’s OK because we have a law against it,” Kneen commented. “But if that law is not enforced, if there isn’t any investigation, much less prosecution, it’s not much help.”
Canada enacted the CFPOA in 1998 to fulfill Canada’s obligations under the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery in International Business Transactions, and amended it in 2013 in response to criticism from the OECD. However, enforcement efforts do not seem to have increased, leading to concern that the government is simply not committing the resources needed to investigate and prosecute notoriously complex and difficult corruption cases.
In the letter, Sherpa and MiningWatch point to Prime Minister Trudeau’s stated support for the fight against corruption at the national and international level, and also his concern to promote better ethical behaviour for major business leaders.
- William Bourdon, Sherpa, 01 42 60 32 60, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada, +1 (613) 569-3439, email@example.com