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Canada company charged for Africa bribes

A Canadian oil and gas company that self reported illegal payments to officials in Africa has been charged under Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

Calgary-based Griffiths Energy International Inc. said in a release Wednesday that an internal investigation by a new management group hired in July 2011 uncovered the payments to officials in Chad.

The company said it is 'the first Canadian resource company to have self-reported and conducted such an investigation.'

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) charged Griffiths Wednesday with one count under section 3(1)(b) of Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (available here).

Griffiths said it cooperated with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the PPSC, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The company didn't mention in its statement U.S. charges or pending investigations.

Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act 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.'

Gary Guidry, president and CEO of Griffiths, said: 'We've worked extensively with the Crown and the RCMP throughout and we anticipate a negotiated resolution in the very near future.'

'We can't say any more at this time,' Guidry said, 'but will commit to providing more details as soon as a resolution is approved by the court and made public.'

In 2011, Calgary-based Niko Resources Ltd paid a C$9.5 million fine under Canada's overseas bribery law. It admitted bribing a Bangladeshi official with a Toyota Land Cruiser and travel expenses.

Griffiths Energy's co-founder, Brad Griffiths, was killed in a 2011 boating accident.

In Wednesday's statement, the company said its 'prior management and board of directors entered into contracts with two entities owned and controlled by a foreign public official and his spouse, in the period between August 30, 2009 and February 9, 2011.'

In June last year, two executives from Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc were charged in a Toronto court with bribing officials in Bangladesh.

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