Canada investigates whether Canadian

lobbying firm breached Sudan sanctions

Written by: Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

Date: July 9, 2019

On July 3, 2019, the Globe & Mail reported in an article entitled “Ottawa recommends RCMP investigate Canadian lobby firm representing Sudanese military” that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“RCMP”) has opened an investigation into whether Dickens & Madson (Canada) Inc. had violated Canada’s economic sanctions against Sudan.  Globe & Mail articles and an Amnesty International letter prompted the investigation. Canada does not normally publicly announce criminal investigations.  Usually, no information is released until the RCMP charges a company or the company publicly posts information about the investigation.  The announcement was prompted due to the media attention on Dickens & Madson.

On June 27, 2018, Geoffrey York wrote an article published in the Globe & Mail entitled “Canadian lobbying firm hired for US$6-million to polish  image of Sudan’s military regime”. According to the article:

“The firm’s contract with Sudan was signed by Mr. Ben-Menashe and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, the deputy leader of Sudan’s military council. He is the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group formerly known as the Janjaweed when it allegedly committed atrocities and massacres against rebels in the Darfur region.”

The contract was allegedly signed on May 7, 2019.  The private contract became public because it was filed with the U.S. government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  The contract was described as providing for the following:

• “a US$6-million deal to seek government funds and diplomatic recognition for a notorious Sudanese military leader whose forces have been accused of massacring protesters in Khartoum”
• “We shall use our best efforts to ensure favourable international as well as Sudanese media coverage for you…”
• “…to find equipment for its security forces, search for oil investors, seek a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and improve relations with Russia and Saudi Arabia…”

The final point is what has raised concerns.

On June 28, 2019, Steven Chase and Geoffrey York published an article entitled “Quebec lobbying firm may have broken Sudan sanctions with deal ‘striving’ to supply military equipment for military”.  I am mentioned in that article having said:

“Toronto trade lawyer Cyndee Todgham Cherniak said that depending on what exactly is being sold to persons in Sudan, Dickens & Madson could be acting contrary to prohibitions in the UN sanctions if they supply arms or technical assistance. There are exceptions though for non-lethal military gear intended for protective use, such as bulletproof vests.”

Steven Chase and Geoffrey York also queried whether the contract breached Canada’s new brokering rules.

On July 1, 2019, The Globe & Mail reported that “Amnesty International calls  for probe of  Canadian lobbyists firm’s contract with Sudan military regime“.  Here is a copy of Amnesty International’s June 30, 2019 letter to the Government of Canada.

The issue to be investigated is whether Dickens & Madson breached Canada’s multilateral economic sanctions against Sudan.  The United Nations Security Council has passed sanctions (and arm’s embargo) against Sudan (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1556 and 1591).  Canada implemented those economic sanctions and trade restrictions in Canadian law under the United Nations Act.  In 2004, Canada’s Governor in Council promulgated the United Nations (Sudan) Regulations (which have subsequently been amended), which were published in the Canada Gazette.

Canada has not imposed additional economic sanctions against Sudan under the Special Economic Measures Act.

Canada’s economic sanctions against Sudan include the following prohibitions:

  1. No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly export, sell, supply or ship arms and related material (any type of weapon, ammunition, military vehicle or military or paramilitary equipment, and includes their spare parts), wherever situated, to any person in Sudan.
  2. No owner or master of a Canadian ship, within the meaning of section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act and no operator of an aircraft registered in Canada shall knowingly carry, cause to be carried or permit to be carried, arms and related material, wherever situated, destined for any person in Sudan.
  3. No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly provide, directly or indirectly, to any person in Sudan technical assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of arms and related material.
  4. No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly deal directly or indirectly in any property in Canada that is owned or controlled as at March 29, 2005 or at any time after that date by a person designated by the Committee of the Security Council (see the UN list of designated persons), or an entity owned or controlled by a designated person by a person acting on behalf or at the direction of a designated person.
  5. No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly enter into or facilitate, directly or indirectly, any financial transaction related to a dealing in property referred to in 4.
  6. No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly provide any financial services or any other services in respect of any property referred to in 4.
  7. No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly make any property — other than the necessaries of life — available, directly or indirectly, to any person referred to in 4 or for their benefit.
  8. No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada  shall not knowingly do anything that causes, facilitates or assists in, or is intended to cause, facilitate or assist in, any activity prohibited by 1, 3-7.

There are exceptions to the above prohibitions.

Whether the facts support charges under the United Nations Act are not yet determined and Dickens & Madson are presumed innocent.  The written contract between Dickens & Madson and the Sudanese military will be important as will be correspondence about that agreement.

For more information about Canada’s economic sanctions, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at For more articles about Canada's economic sanctions, please see the LexSage website.

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