On January 20, 2018, the Court of Appeal for Ontario released its decision in the Appeal of Vadim Kazenelson (“Kazenelson”) both his conviction and sentence appeal. Kazenelson was the Project Superintendent/Manager for the Metron Construction Incorporated (“Metron”) project in Toronto that went terribly wrong on December 24, 2009. Tragically four workers died, and one was seriously injured, when two swing stage scaffolds broke apart, and five out of the six workers who were not attached to a lifeline that was anchored to the building, fell to the ground, over 100 feet below. Kazenelson had been at the project at the time of the accident and allegedly aware of workers not using fall arrest lanyards at the time of the accident.
Kazenelson was prosecuted for five counts of criminal negligence under the Criminal Code Amendments, often referred to as the Bill C-45 or Westray Mine Disaster Amendments to the Criminal Code. Kazenelson argued at trial that he was not guilty because he was not the direct supervisor of the crew, he had ensured that the workers had been properly trained and provided with fall arrest protective equipment, that he did raise the concern of workers not being provided with lanyards, when he was on site prior to the accident.
The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act
On October 4, 2017, the House of Commons has unanimously voted to pass Bill S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (the “Act”), that is commonly known as the Magnitsky law. The law is named after Sergey Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who uncovered a large tax fraud and was detained and died in a Moscow prison on November 16, 2009. Bill S-226 received Royal Assent on October 18, 2017.
The Act imposes various sanctions, including freezing of assets and travel bans, on foreign nationals responsible for gross violation of internationally recognized human rights and significant corruption. Among other things, the Act permits issuing orders against anyone in or outside Canada who are dealing, directly or indirectly, with the property or financial affairs of the foreign national that is the subject of an order or regulation under the Act.
On November 3, 2017, regulations under the Act were enforced combating the activities of 52 foreign nationals who are believed to have been engaged in gross human rights violations or significant corruption activities. The majority of the named individuals are the nationals of the Russian Federation, in addition to the nationals of Venezuela and South Sudan. The Russian government has not welcomed the law. It retaliated with its own list banning the entry of various Canadians into Russia. As part of the retaliatory measures, Russia’s officials stated that the government viewed the law as yet another attempt to exert pressure on Russia.
On October 31, 2017, the Government of Canada eliminated the facilitation payment exception from the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (the “CFPOA”). The elimination of this exception was the final component of significant and high profile amendments to the CFPOA enacted over four years ago, which also:
- Expanded the jurisdiction for corruption offences based on nationality.
- Increased the maximum penalty for an individual convicted under the legislation to 14 years.
- Created a books and records offence.
- Provided the RCMP with exclusive authority to lay charges under the CFPOA.
The government delayed implementation of the provision of the 2013 amendments removing the facilitation payment exception from the CFPOA to provide companies with sufficient time to modify business practices and adapt their internal controls. Despite the length of notice, it is critical for companies conducting business abroad to be mindful of this major change to the legislation.
Government of Canada Launches Consultations
More than two years ago, in the context of its procurement modernization initiative designed to ensure that it was doing business with ethical suppliers, the Government of Canada introduced a government-wide “Integrity Regime”. The Government is now seeking to review whether its objectives have been achieved. On September 25, 2017, it launched a consultation to seek stakeholders’ views on its “Integrity Regime” and took the opportunity to seek the public’s opinion on a potential deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) regime as well. The Government has published a Discussion paper entitled “Expanding Canada’s Toolkit to Address Corporate Wrongdoing: the Deferred Prosecution Agreement Stream Discussion Guide in relation to the consultation process. Stakeholders may provide their responses and comments until November 17, 2017.
A DPA regime is like a diversion program that provides an alternative to criminal proceedings. Instead of going to trial, the prosecutor can make an oﬀer to the accused to hold off on criminal charges, while the person enters into a program designed to rehabilitate them. If the accused does not comply with the terms of the agreement, the prosecution is resumed. In Canada, diversion programs are currently made available to individuals only. A DPA regime is a diversion program made available to corporations. It is often – but not always – available only for speciﬁc oﬀences related to economic crimes.
Le gouvernement canadien lance des consultations
Il y a plus de deux ans, le gouvernement canadien présentait son nouveau « régime d’intégrité ». Par ce régime, le gouvernement cherche à s’assurer qu’il fait affaire avec des fournisseurs dont le comportement est conforme à l’éthique. Dans le but de déterminer s’il a atteint ses objectifs, le 25 septembre 2017, le gouvernement lançait une consultation afin de recueillir les vues du public et des divers acteurs du milieu concernant son « régime d’intégrité ». Il en profitait pour lancer en même temps une consultation sur la possibilité d’instaurer un régime juridique permettant de conclure, au Canada, des accords de poursuite suspendue (APS). Le « Guide de discussions » intitulé « Élargir la trousse d’outils du Canada afin d’éliminer les actes répréhensibles des entreprises : Guide de discussion sur le volet des accords de poursuite suspendue » permet d’orienter le débat. Les personnes qui désirent fournir leurs commentaires dans le contexte de cette consultation peuvent le faire jusqu’au 17 novembre 2017.
Régime juridique permettant de conclure des APS
Les APS constituent en quelque sorte l’équivalent d’un programme de déjudiciarisation. Un programme de déjudiciarisation est un programme permettant aux individus d’éviter de faire l’objet de poursuites criminelles. Dans certaines circonstances, plutôt que d’intenter un procès, le poursuivant peut offrir à l’accusé de suspendre les accusations afin de lui permettre de suivre un programme de réhabilitation. Si l’accusé ne se soumet pas aux règles qu’on lui impose dans ce contexte, la poursuite criminelle est rétablie. Au Canada, de tels programmes de déjudiciarisation sont offerts aux individus seulement. Les APS sont l’équivalent d’un programme de déjudiciarisation, mais pour les entreprises. Les APS s’appliquent normalement seulement aux crimes de nature économique, bien que cela ne soit pas toujours le cas.