Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Griffiths Energy to Pay $10.35-Million Fine for Bribing Officials in Chad

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Griffiths Energy to Pay $10.35-Million Fine for Bribing Officials in Chad

Article excerpt

Griffiths Energy to pay $10.35 million fine

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CALGARY - Griffiths Energy has agreed to pay $10.35 million in fines for bribing the wife of a Chadian diplomat in the hopes it would smooth the way for the privately held company to do business in the African country.

Problematic consulting contracts were signed between Aug. 30, 2009 and Feb. 9, 2011 -- five months before an all-new management team took control of the company.

"What is truly extraordinary about this case is that the new leadership team at Griffiths energy were the ones to detect and correct the wrongdoing long before anybody else would have been the wiser," Griffiths lawyer Kristine Robidoux told a Calgary court on Tuesday.

"They are essentially serving as whistleblowers on their own company."

She called the situation a "tale of two companies."

Robidoux said the fine -- $9 million plus a 15 per cent victim fine surcharge -- is "not trifling."

"The new management and board of this company unequivocally condemns the behaviours described to the court this morning," Robidoux told a Calgary courtroom.

"They agree that the offence was serious and they agree that the penalty must achieve the sentencing objective of denunciation and deterrence."

A judge's decision on approving the fine agreement reached between Griffiths and the Crown is scheduled for Friday.

Griffiths disclosed last week that it had been charged under a Canadian law called the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

In June, 2011, Niko Resources (TSX:NKO), a much larger Calgary company, was fined $9.5 million for offences under the act in relation to bribes to Bangladeshi officials.

There is no indication that the bribes -- $2 million in cash, plus some Griffiths stock -- actually led to any advantage for Griffiths.

"Despite that fact, the company does acknowledge that its former management made those attempts to secure that influence and that satisfies the constituent elements of the offence," said Robidoux. …

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