Just another cost of doing business

In Justice Shift, Corporate Deals Replace Trials – New York Times

Instead, many companies, from boutique outfits to immense corporations like American Express, have avoided the cost and stigma of defending themselves against criminal charges with a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, which allows the government to collect fines and appoint an outside monitor to impose internal reforms without going through a trial. In many cases, the name of the monitor and the details of the agreement are kept secret.

Deferred prosecutions have become a favorite tool of the Bush administration. But some legal experts now wonder if the policy shift has led companies, in particular financial institutions now under investigation for their roles in the subprime mortgage debacle, to test the limits of corporate anti-fraud laws.

Not to mention that they can steer tens of millions in “monitoring fees” to not-obviously-qualified cronies and former bosses. The whole point of criminal prosecution of corporations and their officers is to provide the threat of penalties that can’t simply be written off on the balance sheet (and in some cases, on the companies’ tax returns). But nah, that would be too harsh for the Big Folk. Only little people go to jail. (Wow, imagine if I could be “punished” for stealing from my neighbor’s house by paying a friend to monitor my promise not to steal again for a few years.)

The rest of the article consists of crapulent assertions by people involved in previous get-out-of-jail agreements that those nasty people who peddled subprime loans, unlike them, shouldn’t receive the same deference, but should go to jail instead. No honor among thieves.

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