Presentation on theme: "Crimes of the Powerful: White Collar, Corporate, and Organized Crime"— Presentation transcript:
1 Crimes of the Powerful: White Collar, Corporate, and Organized Crime Understanding Criminology10th March 2009
2 Lecture Outline White Collar Crime Corporate Crime DefinitionsTypologiesCorporate CrimeImpact of White Collar Crime(In)Adequacy of mainstream criminological theories
3 White Collar Crime General sense: Specific Sense A variety of offences committed by powerful people or organizationsOffences are enabled by legitimate activitiesSpecific SenseOffences carried out by individual people in the course of their employment, often against employers
4 Edwin Sutherland (1941) White Collar Crime “crime committed by persons of high social status and respectability”a critiques of criminology’s focus on low-status criminality:‘hidden’ / non-crime status of middle class criminalitycrime defined in terms of harm on victims / societyQuestions raised about criminal status and social class
5 Types of White Collar Crime Individual offencesAgainst employerTheft, fraudAgainst customerOvercharging, fraud, identity theft, various “e-crimes”Against employeeTheft, embezzlementAgainst other companiesInsurance fraudAgainst the StateTax evasion, benefit fraud
6 Corporate CrimeIllegal actions, or omissions, resulting from deliberate decision making, or culpable negligence on the part of a companyOrganizational Goals central to understanding corporate crimeIndifference to outcome of action often contributes
7 Jeffrey Reiman “The Rich Get Richer: The Poor get Prison” The Social Construction of CrimeThe construction of ‘crime’ focuses attention onto the social harm perpetrated by the poor, and away from those (more damaging) harms perpetrated by corporations“Typical” criminal: young, urban, poor and ethnic minorityA distortion of harms: “a carnival mirror”
8 How is this social construction achieved? Legislative definitions of crimePolice and prosecutor prioritiesJudges and jury decisionsSentencingMedia reporting of ‘crimes’ and ‘accidents’Each of these stages are inter-related
9 Impact of corporate crime? Occupational Disease and InjuryCrime (x ½)Death54,9288,250Other Physical Harm2,300,000425,000Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2003; National Crime Victimisation SurveyNote: Crime Rate halved to enable direct comparisons: workforce accounts for half the general population
10 Victims of Corporate Crime EmployeesCustomersThe Environment
12 BENEFITS (OF RECALLING AND RETRO-FITTING) Ford Motor Company internal memorandum: "Fatalities Associated with Crash-Induced Fuel Leakage and Fires"BENEFITS (OF RECALLING AND RETRO-FITTING)Savings: 180 burn deaths, 180 serious burn injuries, 2,100 burned vehicles. Unit Cost: $200,000 per death, $67,000 per injury, $700 per vehicle.Total Benefit: 180 X ($200,000) X ($67,000) + $2,100 X ($700)= $49.5 million.COSTSSales: 11 million cars, 1.5 million light trucks. Unit Cost: $11 per car, $11 per truck.Total Cost: 11,000,000 X ($11) + 1,500,000 X ($11)= $137 million.
13 Variety of corporate crime Against consumersMis-selling: providing goods and servicesCar-clocking, counterfeiting, dangerous goodsHealth and safety offencesEmployee, consumer and environmentFinancial Fraud
14 Impact of Corporate Crime Lethal Corporate CrimeA ratio of 7:1 – seven times as many work-placed deaths than homicides (once figures adjusted for risk)
15 Injuries resulting from Corporate Crime ThalidomideChemie Grunenthal deliberately falsified test data, and concealed the dangers of the drugLung Cancer and Passive SmokingAsbestos
16 Financial Costs of Corporate Crime Mirror Pensioners£440 million missing from Daily Mirror pension funds : 30,000 employees / former employees of Mirror Group affectedLevi (1987)- Cost of fraud reported to fraud squads: £2113 million- Twice the cost of theft, burglary and robbery that year
17 Other Harms Health Care Chemical Warfare Poverty Consumer Safety negligence, injuries and deaths, drug reactions and interactionsChemical Warfarepollution, toxic wastes, smoking, food additives, pesticidesPovertyHigher infant mortality, lower rates of health, shorter life expectancyConsumer SafetyDefective Products
18 Problems with “Hidden” Corporate Crime Construction of Official StatisticsMedia Constructions of the Criminal: ‘Respectable’ v ‘Criminal’CJS focus on “conventional” crimeCorporate crime largely outside control of Criminal JusticeMost cases emerge from campaigning / whistle-blowingCrime is seen as individualistic, inter-personal, and finite: much corporate crime does not fit the model
19 Organized CrimeThe production, supply and financing of illegal markets in good and servicesOrganizations established with criminal intent, though the divide from corporate crime is not always clearMuch organized crime is “governmental”: threatening the State’s monopoly of coercion, protection and extraction
20 Range of Organized Criminality Organized theft and sale of stolen goodsProtection racketsMarkets covering prohibited goods and servicesDrugs, illegal drinking, illegal arms, prostitution, people trafficking, gambling, pornographyMoney LendingMoney laundering
21 Themes in the study of organized crime GlobalizationLocalised ‘firms’ replaced by globalized enterprisesRelationship to legitimate businessesLegitimate business as a “front”Provision of services to businessesLegitimate businesses providing services to organized crime (consciously or unconsciously)Opportunities provided by criminalization
22 Problems for Criminology ConceptualMost of the ‘crimes of the powerful’ challenge mainstream assumptions of what crime is (e.g. victim/offender)EmpiricalEvidence of these crimes are much harder to obtainExplanatoryMainstream theories need adapting, though many can retain relevanceDirect and Indirect CausesTheoreticalIs ‘crime’ the model? Harm?
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