Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The SNC-Lavalin headquarters is seen in Montreal on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canada has slipped in the annual Transparency International ranking of countries considered among the least corrupt, in light of the SNC-Lavalin controversy.

According to the Berlin-based organization's most recent corruption perception index, Canada now ranks 12th on the list of 180 countries assessed, behind Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. This is a decrease of three places compared to 2018.

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas, while the United States ranks 23rd.

The report points out that the "shockingly low" enforcement of foreign bribery laws among economically developed countries was reflected in the case against SNC-Lavalin, which faced criminal charges of fraud and corruption in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

The Montreal engineering company settled the charges in December, with its construction division pleading guilty to a single count of fraud and agreeing to a $280-million fine to be paid over five years and a three-year probation order.

Transparency International also says that Canada is becoming an increasingly popular place for money laundering or "snow-washing" through shell companies to avoid paying taxes.

Denmark and New Zealand are considered the least corrupt countries with a score of 87 points. At the other end of the scale are Somalia, South Sudan and Syria, with scores of nine, 12 and 13.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2020

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