Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Hardships of prosecuting white-collar crime

Those interested in white-collar criminal matters in Illinois might like to know about the ideas discussed in a book by Samuel Buell, who lead the Enron Task Force in the U.S. Justice Department. The law professor at Duke University discusses various shortcomings of the white-collar justice system.

It is difficult to prosecute those who have seemingly engaged in business wrongdoing because corporations are created to limit personal responsibility. Additionally, the size of many companies allows even those at the top of an organization's hierarchy to claim no knowledge of any criminal matters.

On a general level, crimes involve a victim and a perpetrator. When looking at something like the recent financial crisis, it is harder to identify a direct link between the responsible party and victims. In the case of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities and Lehman Brothers Holdings, the alleged wrongdoers mostly conducted business with banks, insurance companies and other institutions that should have known the risks of what they were buying. This implies that the groups just made a bad decision but were not defrauded.

The Enron executives who were prosecuted used fraudulent accounting tactics that allowed them to be held responsible for their actions under criminal law. The other crucial factor was that prosecutors could show that the executives knew that their actions were wrong.

Unfortunately the justice system is not always perfect when it to comes investigating crimes and charging people. Even those who have done nothing wrong could find themselves facing a misdemeanor or felony conviction, which means it might be a good idea to seek legal representation when suspected or accused of a crime. An attorney could review any evidence gathered to see if it is admissible in court and could help ensure that all rules and regulations were followed in regards to a client and his or her case.

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