The Government is planning a new law that could “bring about a revolution in corporate crime enforcement”. That means letting off their mates if they play ball.
They claim the present justice system is “inadequate for dealing effectively with criminal enforcement against commercial organisations in the field of complex and serious economic crime (fraud, bribery and money laundering)”. It is true that very few cases are brought against offending companies through criminal or civil proceedings is relatively low. Cases can be extremely complicated, and corporate criminals can be very good at tying investigators in knots.
A possible solution would be for state prosecutors to employ enough experts to analyse and present corporate crimes to juries in such a way that doesn’t require lay people to become accounting and corporate law experts. It is not acceptable to take decisions on these sort of crimes away from the British people, who should be the decisive factor in all criminal cases not dealt with by Magistrates’ Benches.
But the Government proposals mean there would be no criminal cases to consider in the first place!
Proposals for Deferred Prosecution Agreements mean criminal charges would not be brought as long as corporate offenders agreed to things like:
- payment of a financial penalty;
- restitution for victims;
- giving up profits from “the offending”; and,
- measures to prevent future offending (just monitoring or reporting requirements).
And all of this would be agreed between offender and prosecutors “without prejudice”, so if it didn’t work out a prosecution would have to start from scratch.
Can you imagine a burglar being allowed to escape like this just because it is too much effort to prosecute? Or an art forger? A con man?
Gordon Brown failed to act on the then general consensus that corporate duties should include some social/environmental responsibilities as well as making profits for shareholders, which was bad enough.
Now the current Government is pressing the advantage of this “business can do no wrong” attitude to make corporate criminal acts far less risk for their chums.