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In "criminology, corporate crime refers to crimes committed either by a "corporation (i.e., a "business entity having a separate legal personality from the "natural persons that manage its activities), or by individuals acting on behalf of a corporation or other business entity (see "vicarious liability and "corporate liability). Some negative behaviours by corporations may not actually be criminal; laws vary between jurisdictions. For example, some jurisdictions allow "insider trading.

Corporate crime overlaps with:


Definitional issues[edit]

Legal person[edit]

An 1886 decision of the "United States Supreme Court, in "Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad "118 "U.S. 394 (1886), has been cited by various courts in the US as precedent to maintain that a corporation can be defined legally as a "person", as described in the "Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment stipulates that,

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In "English law, this was matched by the decision in "Salomon v Salomon & Co [1897] AC 22. In "Australian law, under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), a corporation is legally a "person".

Criminal capacity[edit]

United States law currently recognizes corporate criminal capacity. French law currently recognizes corporate criminal capacity. German law does not recognize corporate criminal capacity: German corporations are however subject to fining for administrative violations (Ordnungswidrigkeiten) International treaties governing corporate malfeasance thus tend to permit but not require corporate criminal liability.

Enforcement policy[edit]

Corporate crime has become politically sensitive in some countries. In the "United Kingdom, for example, following wider publicity of fatal accidents on the rail network and at sea, the term is commonly used in reference to "corporate manslaughter and to involve a more general discussion about the technological hazards posed by business enterprises (see Wells: 2001).

In the United States, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was passed to reform business practices, including enhanced corporate responsibility, financial disclosures, and combat fraud,[1] following the highly publicized scandals of Enron, Worldcom, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and Bernie Madoff. Company chief executive officer (CEO) and company chief financial officer (CFO) are required to personally certify financial reports to be accurate and compliant with applicable laws, with criminal penalties for willful misconduct including monetary fines up to $5,000,000 and prison sentence up to 20 years.[2]

The Law Reform Commission of New South Wales offers an explanation of such criminal activities:

Corporate crime poses a significant threat to the welfare of the community. Given the pervasive presence of corporations in a wide range of activities in our society, and the impact of their actions on a much wider group of people than are affected by individual action, the potential for both economic and physical harm caused by a corporation is great (Law Reform Commission of New South Wales: 2001).

Similarly, Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman (1999) assert:

At one level, corporations develop new technologies and economies of scale. These may serve the economic interests of mass consumers by introducing new products and more efficient methods of mass production. On another level, given the absence of political control today, corporations serve to destroy the foundations of the civic community and the lives of people who reside in them.



Behavior can be regulated by the "civil law (including "administrative law) or the "criminal law. In deciding to criminalize particular behavior, the "legislature is making the political judgment that this behavior is sufficiently "culpable to deserve the stigma of being labelled as a crime. In law, corporations can commit the same offences as natural persons. Simpson (2002) avers that this process should be straightforward because a state should simply engage in "victimology to identify which behavior causes the most loss and damage to its "citizens, and then represent the majority view that "justice requires the intervention of the criminal law. But states depend on the business sector to deliver a functioning economy, so the politics of regulating the individuals and corporations which supply that stability become more complex. For the views of "Marxist criminology, see Snider (1993) and Snider & Pearce (1995), for "Left realism, see Pearce & Tombs (1992) and Schulte-Bockholt (2001), and for "Right Realism, see Reed & Yeager (1996). More specifically, the historical tradition of "sovereign state control of "prisons is ending through the process of "privatisation. Corporate profitability in these areas therefore depends on building more prison facilities, managing their operations, and selling inmate labor. In turn, this requires a steady stream of prisoners able to work. (Kicenski: 2002)

"Bribery and "corruption are problems in the developed world, and the corruption of public officials is thought to be a serious problem in developing countries, and an obstacle to development.

"Edwin Sutherland's definition of white collar crime also is related to notions of corporate crime. In his landmark definition of white collar crime he offered these categories of crime:

Corruption and the private sector review[edit]

One paper discusses some of the issues that arise in the relationship between private sector and corruption. The findings can be summarized as follows:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Laws That Govern the Securities Industry". Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002" (PDF). 107th Congress. Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  3. ^ Forgues-Puccio, G.F., Feb 2013, Corruption and the Private sector: a review of issues, Economic and Private Sector, Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services,

External links[edit]

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