FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Unmentionable Topic

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

There’s some extra space in the AP Stylebook now that it’s editors have eliminated the term “illegal immigrant.”

I propose that AP replace it with “corporate crime.”

There’s little question that corporate crime — pollution, corruption, fraud, reckless homicide — inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.

Yet, it is rarely talked about in the mainstream press.

Corporate Crime Reporter recently completed news search of the term “corporate crime” in all news items since the beginning of the year and came up with 430 mentions.

Fully 90 percent of the mentions are from overseas outlets — predominantly from Australia, Canada and the UK.

We found only 42 mentions by U.S. news outlets — most of them smaller newspapers — like the Record and Clarion in Beaverton, Michigan or the Eagle Tribune in North Andover, Massachusetts — or blogs like the FCPAProfessor, CT Blue or CounterPunch.

About 14 of the 42 mentions came from mainstream outlets — with three of the 14 appearing in a New York Times blog.

When mainstream news outlets did use the phrase “corporate crime,” it was mostly in reference to corporate crime outside the United States.

CNN did a report that mentioned corporate crime in Russia.

CNN International did a show that reference corporate crime in China.

The New York Times ran an op-ed that talked about the possibility of prosecuting corporate crime in Africa.

We found only one mainstream U.S. story that had the phrase “corporate crime” in the headline.

That was a New York Times headline titled “Top Prosecutor of Corporate Crime to Resign.”

The story was about Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, resigning.

The irony is that Breuer was the target of two major news magazine shows — one by 60 Minutes titled “Prosecuting Wall Street” and one by PBS’ Frontline titled “The Untouchables” — that brought into sharp focus Breuer’s failure to criminally prosecute any big Wall Street bank or high level executive for the 2008 financial meltdown.

Breuer now back at his old law firm — Covington & Burling — taking down $4 million a year defending corporate criminals.

Not that Covington uses the phrase “corporate crime.”

Covington calls the practice “White Collar Defense and Investigations.”

(Competing laws firms are more honest about it. Jones Day calls their practice “Corporate Criminal Investigations.”)

But top federal prosecutors rarely use the phrase “corporate crime.”

I’ve found only one instance in which Eric Holder has used it in his three years as Attorney General.

It apparently slipped out earlier this year when Holder was asked a question about prosecuting individual executives.

“We’re gonna make some news with regard to holding individuals responsible for things we tend to think of as corporate crimes,” Holder said.

Note — Holder said we’re going to hold individuals responsible — not hold corporations responsible.

In fact, Holder has perpetuated a system that fails to hold corporations responsible.

Instead of criminally prosecuting corporations and securing guilty pleas, the Department for the most part now settles major corporate crime cases with non prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements.

This undermines deterrence and sends the message that we have in a two tiered criminal justice system — one for powerless individual street criminals — who will go to jail if they commit crimes — and one for powerful corporate criminals — who will not be forced to plead guilty if they commit crimes.

And it’s not just the Department of Justice.

For decades now, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has settled major corporate cases with consent decrees in which the corporation “neither admits nor denies” violating the law but consents not to violate it again.

These decrees are now being challenged by federal judges — most notably Judge Jed Rakoff in New York and Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C.

Just because mainstream news outlets and federal prosecutors rarely mention the phrase “corporate crime” and just because we don’t secure admissions and guilty pleas against the corporate criminals doesn’t mean corporate crime doesn’t exist in the United States.

It just means that the powerful have flooded the public sphere and defined the terms of the debate.

On May 3 at the National Press Club, Corporate Crime Reporter will raise these and other issues at a one day conference.

We’ll put “corporate crime” front and center.

The title of the conference —  Neither Admit Nor Deny: Corporate Crime in the Age of Deferred Prosecutions, Consent Decrees, Whistleblowers and Monitors.

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

 

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail