Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Crown seeks 4-year sentence in landmark bribery case

A Boeing 737-800 aircraft in the livery of Air India Express at Mumbai airport.

PUNIT PARANJPE/REUTERS

Prosecutors are seeking a four-year prison term for a former high-tech executive who was found guilty of attempting to bribe government officials in India, a landmark case that is expected to set a precedent for future corruption sentences in Canada.

Nazir Karigar was convicted last fall for his role in a plot to distribute at least $450,000 in bribes to officials at state-owned Air India, as well as an Indian cabinet minister, in an attempt to secure a contract for his company to provide the airline with security technology. Mr. Karigar is the first individual to be tried and convicted under Canada's foreign bribery law.

Speaking in an Ottawa courtroom on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Moray Welch argued that a four-year prison sentence would serve an important purpose by denouncing Mr. Karigar's actions and deterring others from attempting similar behaviour. Mr. Karigar's lawyers are expected to make their submissions on Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

In 2005, Mr. Karigar approached the Ottawa office of CryptoMetrics, a U.S.-based technology firm, with an offer to help the company secure a contract to supply Air India with a facial-recognition security system. He later became executive director of the company's Indian subsidiary and introduced members of the firm to several high-ranking officials at Air India.

Prosecutors were unable to show during the trial that money actually exchanged hands, and CryptoMetrics was not ultimately awarded the contract. However, Justice Charles Hackland of the Ontario Superior Court ruled that there was enough of a paper trail to show that Mr. Karigar and others at CryptoMetrics intended to make the payments.

Mr. Welch argued that while others were involved in the case, Mr. Karigar was a central figure. "Not only did Mr. Karigar play a leading role in this enterprise, he was the instigator," Mr. Welch argued during the sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

He asked the court to consider the large sum of money involved in the case, the potential profits at stake in the Air India contract, and the number of people who were drawn into the conspiracy as aggravating factors that should increase the severity of Mr. Karigar's sentence. However, the prosecutor added that the fact that no contract was awarded could also be considered a mitigating factor in determining an appropriate sentence.

The sentencing is complicated by the fact that Mr. Karigar is the first individual to be convicted under Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, which means there are no similar Canadian cases for the judge to consider. Three companies have been convicted under the Act during the past decade, but all pleaded guilty and so did not see their cases go to trial.

The maximum sentence under Canada's foreign bribery law at the time Mr. Karigar was convicted was five years. That has since been increased to 14 years, but the new sentencing range cannot be applied retroactively to Mr. Karigar's case.

With a file from reporter Greg McArthur

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨