The Unmentionable Topic


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 edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving