Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and honourable members of the committee. Thank you for inviting the RCMP to participate in today's proceedings. We understand that the committee is studying the role of the private sector in achieving Canada's international development interests.
In 2007 Canada ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The convention introduced a comprehensive set of standards, measures, and rules that all countries can apply to strengthen their legal and regulatory regimes to fight corruption. It calls for preventive measures and the criminalization of the most prevalent forms of corruption in both public and private sectors.
The convention also includes several measures to improve global collaboration against corruption. One of these requires that each member state establish a preventive anti-corruption body to enforce the appropriate anti-corruption policies, gather and disseminate knowledge, and assist foreign partners in the fight against corruption.
To help fulfill Canada's commitments under the convention, the Government of Canada provided funding to the RCMP for the creation of two RCMP international anti-corruption units. These units were established and implemented in the RCMP commercial crime sections in Ottawa and Calgary in 2008. Oversight of the program is provided by a commissioned officer at the RCMP headquarters commercial crime branch.
The two units are strategically located to cover eastern and western regions of Canada. Each seven-person international anti-corruption unit focuses on detecting, investigating, and preventing international corruption. Their primary focus is on the offence of bribing a foreign public official, contrary to Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
In addition to conducting investigations, the international anti-corruption units deliver prevention and awareness messaging to business and government communities. They also work closely with foreign enforcement bodies, as well as Canadian partners such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of Justice Canada, and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.
The commercial crime branch and other anti-corruption authorities recognize several high-risk areas related to international corruption. Five areas at risk of involving higher dollar values and prominent public officials are extractive industries, mega-construction projects, country-to-country development assistance, disaster recovery assistance, and government procurement contracting.
The levels of corruption vary from country to country. One reason for this is that countries have treated corruption differently. They have criminalized, enforced, and penalized corrupt activities differently. Another reason is that cultures of corruption develop over time, and once they exist, they persist. They become entrenched in the way business is done and in that way of life.
Corruption interferes with economic productivity as well as normal market forces. Corruption can result in contracting processes in which the successful bidders do not deserve to win. Corrupt processes do not provide the public with good value for public funds expended. Those who conduct business internationally need to be aware of the risks and eliminate or mitigate them. They need to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity.
There are instructive Internet resources available to assist businesses to operate internationally and avoid corrupt practices. Some of the best practices for internationally operating organizations include having robust internal controls and compliance policies, knowing the laws in the jurisdictions where they operate, having a code of conduct, delivering appropriate training, and knowing the agents or employees who represent their companies.
Transparency International's website includes an area devoted to the subject of how to fight corruption. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's website has an area on supporting the fight against corruption in developing countries. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency, Export Development Canada, and other Government of Canada departments have anti-corruption-related material and resources available on their websites.
The way to combat corruption on a global scale to the benefit of developing countries and internationally operating organizations is for governments and businesses to continue to work together to create a level playing field, a playing field without corruption.