Edited by Stephen Tully
Joseph F.C. DiMento and Gilbert Geis Introduction The front pages of American newspapers today, when they are not displaying pictures of dead bodies lying about on mideast killing fields, are likely to show a corporate executive in business suit – with handcuffs on his wrists behind his back, being led into a criminal court by burly government agents. This development differs dramatically from earlier days when news of a business leader who had been charged with a criminal act (unless it was a sex scandal) was likely to be buried in the paper’s business section, if it was attended to at all (Dershowitz, 1961). The current actions by American law enforcement agencies against corporate wrongdoing – and the dramatisation of such efforts – is one of the more significant developments in the arena of white-collar and corporate crime. The desire to focus attention on what they are accomplishing is one of the prime goals of American regulatory agencies. They live (and sometimes die) in terms of public perceptions of the success of their activities, matters that become of prime importance during congressional hearings on their budget request for the forthcoming fiscal year. The development and the particular nature of corporate criminal liability in the United States mirrors basic elements of the ideology and political arrangements of the country, many of which are congruent with those of the United Kingdom. The hiatus in England after the South Sea Bubble Act of 1720 when the formation of joint-stock companies was inhibited (Davies, 1952, 1975) could...
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