A federal proposal that would allow prosecutors to suspend criminal charges against companies in certain cases of corporate wrongdoing has been quietly included in the Trudeau government’s 582-page budget legislation.
In fact, its inclusion was so discreet, even one Liberal MP studying the legislation was caught by surprise.
The government intends to move forward with an amendment to the Criminal Code to create an optional tool for prosecutors that’s sometimes referred to as a “deferred prosecution agreement.”
Such agreements are designed to encourage more companies to come forward to self-report corporate crimes and to identify individuals for prosecution. If it lives up to its end of the bargain, the company as a whole would avoid facing serious criminal charges, which could include bribery, corruption and insider trading.
The change, however, has raised concerns among lawmakers, including Liberals, on the House of Commons finance committee, which has been analyzing the broader budget bill.
A few members of the all-party committee said they were first made aware of the change only after it was brought to their attention during the testimony of a senior Justice Department late last Tuesday night.