A Look at Corporate Crime
Margaret P. Spencer
Corporate misconduct that involves violations of criminal statutes can be recognized in an assortment of forms. It may include illegal price-fixing, government contract fraud, bribery, illegal kickbacks, income tax evasion, money laundering, insider trading, wire and mail fraud, and forgery. These corporate crimes are committed by and for business and pose a serious threat to the health, safety, and financial welfare of consumers and workers as well as to the orderly functioning of the economy and the government. Most of these crimes contain two common elements: the intent to cheat someone and the intent to deceive or conceal the truth. Concealment of misconduct usually involves falsifying records or documents to disguise discrepancies. The higher the degree of effort to conceal a corporate misconduct the more difficult detection will be for unsuspecting management, the public, investors, directors, auditors, and the government.
This type of corporate misconduct was studied over 50 years ago in Edwin Sutherland's examination of illegal corporate behavior and was initially classified as "white-collar crime."1 However, crime in the United States was defined only by traditional "street crimes" during the 30-year period between 1940 and 1970, and there was minimal public concern with the issue of corporate criminal conduct.2 Since the early