A new policy set forth by the U.S. Department of Justice states that cracking down on white-collar crime is vital. According to the document signed by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, “fighting corporate fraud and other misconduct is a top priority of the Department of Justice.”
The Department of Justice’s 6 steps to end white-collar crime
The new policy with the subject Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing lists 6 ways in which the Department of Justice plans on cracking down on white-collar crime.
1. Cooperation credit only to those who cooperate fully.
There are companies who put on a charade of cooperation to help find and prosecute those guilty of white-collar crimes in their corporations, without disclosing all the known information. Now they must cooperate fully in order to get any cooperation credit. Additionally, the Department of Justice must fully investigate, and not rely on all the information being handed to them on a silver platter.
2. Go after the individuals, not just the company as a whole.
Blaming the company for the conduct on one or more individuals is pointless and wastes valuable time. By focusing on those who guilty of white-collar crime, investigations can finish quickly while the company is able to save face.
3. All attorneys- both criminal and civil- should communicate fully with one another.
If everyone shares information, it’s easier for cases to move forward. Additionally, the sooner another party is privy to knowledge or circumstances in a case, the smoother the proceedings will be.
4. No resolving individual’s charges along with the corporation’s.
If a company is let off the hook, the individual guilty of a white-collar crime can’t be protected or shielded by the company’s resolution. Any criminal or civil charges related to the guilty individual will not be buried beneath corporate red tape.
5. No delays in charges against an individual once the corporation case is complete.
When cases against a corporation are resolved, there is a time limit as to when charges can be made against an individual for a white-collar crime. Before the corporation can come to a resolution, the charges of the individuals believed guilty of a white-color crime must be acknowledged.
6. Prosecute all who are guilty of white-collar crime, regardless of their paycheck.
Prosecuting attorneys are always eager to collect hefty fines from those guilty of a white-collar crime, but if the individual makes paltry wages compared to the company as a whole, settling for less or nothing is expected. This is no longer acceptable behavior, as everyone guilty of a white-collar crime will be projected to face charges and fines.
Problems with the new policy
Everyone cooperates and communicates while saving time and money. This sounds great, and looks even better in writing; however there are problems with these so called solutions to white-collar crime.
• The likelihood of complete compliance is a big issue, and hard to prove. Although company officials are expected to disclose all information regarding criminal or civil proceedings, there is no guarantee that they will follow through with those expectations.
• Going after specific individuals instead of the larger corporation leaves it wide open for a company scapegoat. Who’s going to take the fall for the company? That will be up to the high level execs to decide.
• Open communication? Enough said.
• Someone lower on the corporate food chain may not find protection from the company, but shielding of their hierarchy should be anticipated.
• While there may be no “intentional” delay in a case against a company individual, it wouldn’t take long for the case to get lost in the shuffle.
• Although all found guilty of white collar crime may face charges, it wouldn’t be surprising to see fines tailored to the individual or the prediction of financial fallout for the company.
Former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. argued that when big corporations are taken down, the fallout for the common citizen could be colossal. Arresting the big fish or executives of large corporations might give the impression of a win for common folk of America, however the consequences of white-collar crime convictions affect everyone. From the stability of the stock market to the prices handed down to customers, eventually everyone will pay for those convictions. As a whole, this new policy could prove that Holder was either wrong in his assumptions or unfortunately, he may have been right.