A Calgary judge has approved the biggest fine ever to a Canadian company involved in foreign bribery, calling the crime an "embarrassment to all Canadians."

Griffiths Energy, a privately held oil exploration and development company, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Corruption of Public Foreign Officials Act earlier this week.

Griffiths Energy and the Crown agreed the $9-million fine, plus a 15 per cent victim fine surcharge, reflected the severity of the offence, which took place under the watch of the company's previous management team.

The company admitted it paid $2 million to a company controlled by the wife of Chad's ambassador to Canada, to get an advantage in two exploration blocks in the oil-rich African country.

"The actions were wrong. They were inappropriate. When we found those actions we blew the whistle, we co-operated with authorities because that's the way our management team and board do business," said President and CEO Gary Guidry outside of court on Friday.

RCMP Inspector Greg Shields credits Griffiths' new managers for disclosing the bribe.

"I think it sends a positive message in that we are investigating these type of complaints and that by coming forward voluntarily, as the judge mentioned, the fines have been more favourable to the corporation," said Shields.

The current management discovered the suspect contracts as they were doing preparations for an initial public offering, which has been called off.