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Public International Law - Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act

. Portnov v. Canada (Attorney General)

In Portnov v. Canada (Attorney General) (Fed CA, 2021) the Federal Court of Appeal considered a judicial review application of a federal Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act case:
[1] Foreign states sometimes find themselves in political uncertainty or internal turmoil. For the unscrupulous, this presents an opportunity for personal gain. Public offices can be exploited. Public property can be pilfered and hidden abroad.

[2] When a measure of normalcy returns to foreign states, they sometimes want to trace the property, freeze it from further dispersal, and bring it back home. To assist them, Canada has passed a law: Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, S.C. 2011, c. 10.

[3] Under section 4 of the Act, when foreign states ask for assistance and when the Governor in Council is satisfied the statutory prerequisites are met, the Governor in Council can issue an order or regulation restricting or prohibiting any dealings with certain property held by designated individuals.

[4] That happened here. The Governor in Council passed a regulation in response to a request from Ukraine: Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials (Ukraine) Regulations, S.O.R./2014-44 (the “2014 Regulations”). According to the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement for the 2014 Regulations, Ukraine’s former President, Viktor Yanukovych, his senior officials, close associates, and family members had "“misappropriated state funds, or obtained property inappropriately”" from "“their [public] office[s] or family, business or personal connections”". This was said to be part of "“[r]ampant corruption and other abuses by senior government officials”" in Ukraine that "“weakened the Ukrainian economy and depleted government coffers”", causing "“billions of dollars”" to be "“stolen or diverted”". See Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement, (2014) C. Gaz. II, Vol. 148, No. 7 at p. 739.


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Last modified: 03-12-22
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