4. WHITE-COLLAR AND CORPORATE CRIME OVERLOOKEDNon-violent crimes committed by white-collar workers and corporations are being overlooked due to a "public and political preoccupation with violent offences," says a leading corporate fraud investigator.
Justice Minister Allan Rock's crime-prevention strategy has focused primarily on violent crime. But Don Holmes, a fraud investigator with Ernst & Young, believes that the "social ramifications" of white-collar crime may in fact be more serious. The initial responsibility of investigating white-collar crimes such as employee theft and fraud falls on forensic accountants like Holmes.
Aaron Freeman and Craig Forcese, founding directors of the Ottawa-based Democracy Watch, argue that the "war on crime" largely ignores not only such white-collar employee crime, but also violations committed by corporations. These include tax evasion, bribery, fraudulent advertising, illegal mergers, and monopoly pricing.
While individual cases are reported, the media rarely convey the scope of corporate and white collar crime. The impact of such crimes is illustrated by the following:
According to Holmes, the lenient treatment of non-violent crime has led to the growth of a "get-something-for-nothing attitude." Similarly, many corporations view the penalties for corporate crime as a ̉mere cost of doing business." Freeman and Forcese claim Exxon spent less money cleaning up the Valdez oil spill than it spent on positive publicity of its efforts.
Through stronger legislation, enforcement and penalties for white collar and corporate crime, argue Freeman and Forcese, the government could "begin to correct the biases of our two-tiered system of justice."
PCC researcher: Diane Burgess