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Corporate Crime

Corporate Negligence

Oil companies intentionally breaking the law, killing dozens. Automakers refusing to fix known deadly defects, killing hundreds. Pharmaceutical companies selling contaminated medicine, killing thousands. These are our most powerful and trusted corporate citizens.

These corporations are caught in serious criminal schemes at a startling rate. More than 250 of the largest corporations have been prosecuted since 2001, and many of them are recidivists. They commit the same crimes again and again. Why do they do it? Because they usually get away with it.

And just as important, they don’t have much to fear even when they do get caught. The CEO is insulated by the layers below. Just like in a mafia organization, it’s tough a build the case against the boss when it’s the soldiers who execute. Prosecutors don’t have the tools they need to penetrate the corporation. Mafia prosecutors need wire taps, constant surveillance and undercover agents. None of which are available to corporate crime investigators.

So no real person ever gets indicted – and the Justice Department doesn’t like indicting the company either. Instead, the government now offers “deferred prosecution agreements”. What does that mean? The government agrees not to prosecute the company and the company promises to stop committing crimes. You won’t believe this. In almost half of these non-prosecution agreements, there’s no criminal fine whatsoever. No jail, no fine and so they do it again. Crime pays, at least for these most massive corporations. The proof is right there in the long list of companies that keep on committing crimes, even after they’re caught and supposedly punished.

Why do prosecutors go so easy? Well, one reason is this, the courts have made it almost impossible for them. The most massive criminal corporations have created a wildly successful campaign to convince the legal community that corporations are somehow the innocent victims of police and prosecutorial misconduct. Judges across the spectrum – from liberal to conservative – have been convinced by this corporate civil rights movement. So while courts have expanded government power to prosecute real people, the courts have found brand new previously hidden constitutional rights for corporations and their executives, and then use these constitutional rights to overturn many corporate crime convictions.

So why bother prosecuting if the convictions are going to get overturned anyway? United States Supreme Court has even limited the amount of financial punishment in civil cases brought by the victims. The limit seems high. It is high for a real person or a small business, even a medium-sized business, even a pretty big business. For us, the limit is more than enough, more than high enough to punish.

If you make billions killing people or stealing from them, a million-dollar fine is not punishment. It’s encouragement.

So the global apex corporations can now make more money breaking the law, even when they’re caught. The Supreme Court Justices who made these rulings were convinced by this idea, the idea that these massively wealthy and powerful corporations are the true victims. Politicians in both parties have been captured by that idea as well. But the politicians have been captured by something else also – money. These politicians enjoy unlimited secret financial support for their political campaigns. It may be legal, but it’s the very definition of corruption. You can feel it in your bones and by far, most of that money comes from big business.

So our politicians, greased with corporate money and directed by corporate lobbyists, eviscerate our regulatory agencies and change the laws to boost corporate profits, regardless of the body count.

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