One way to check on government action against corporate crime is to type into Google News the word “fined.”
Who is getting fined for wrongdoing?
Five years or so ago, if you did this, you would get a smattering of corporate criminals on the first page.
But let’s look and see what we get today.
First story up out of the NBA — Paul George, Marcus Morris fined for Saturday’s altercation.
Second story up also out of the NBA — Bucks’ Mayo fined $25,000 by NBA for dispute with referee.
Then you have a story out of Thailand — Western tourists fined for flashing their breasts on Thai island of Phuket.
Then you have your first business being fined, but it ain’t no giant corporate criminal — Wayne Pet Store Facing $13,500 Fine From the State, Wayne’s Puppies was hit with 27 violations from the state Division of Consumer Affairs for improperly selling dogs.
Then you have 1,000 people being fined in New Delhi, India for vehicular pollution – 1,000 Fined On Odd-Even’s Big Trial, Minister Says Delhi Approves Scheme.
A story out of the NFL — Rams punter Johnny Hekker fined for blindside block on Cliff Avril.
A story out of the UK on people being fined for littering — Litter louts could be fined up to £150 under new council plans.
And the final story on page one is people being fined for speeding on the Gold Coast Highway in Australia – Record number of Gold Coasters fined for speeding but it hasn’t curbed road toll increase.
So who’s getting fined this week?
Athletes, tourists, drivers, small businesses and consumers.
Corporate criminals? No.
Corporate crime down?
By all indications, corporate crime is up.
But the corporations have worked overtime inside the beltway to fight against the corporate crime police and limit their effectiveness.
They have worked overtime to massage the law so that it is more difficult to prosecute these crimes. (Most recently, for example, corporate lobbyists have secured a hard earned victory to implement mens rea reform.)
Ten years ago, when corporations committed a crime, they would be criminally prosecuted and fined.
Now, they enter into deferred and non prosecution agreements and pay money to settle a case.
When they enter into these agreements, prosecutors don’t say they are fining the company — after all, you fine someone who has committed a wrong — and corporations no longer admit wrongdoing.
Instead, prosecutors and enforcement officials typically report in their press releases that the corporation “agrees to pay” so many millions of dollars.
If you are a football or basketball star or a tourist in Thailand, you admit to the crime and pay the fine.
If you are a corporate criminal, just have your lawyer work up the necessary papers.
Neither admit nor deny. Deferred prosecution. Non prosecution. Agree to pay.
Can’t we all just get along?