CORPORATE CRIME

All of us are potential targets and casualties of corporate criminality, yet we largely remain unaware of our victimisation. (In)Justice International intends to expose this obfuscation by highlighting the greedy and destructive nature of 'neoliberal' corporate practices and its unbridled drive to maximise profits at the expense of safety, morality and social wellbeing. Social harm (click here for more), therefore, results from the malpractices that result in illegal and toxic 'dumping'/disposal of manufactured goods, widespread environmental destruction through the extensive deforestation of habitats, offshore spillages, oppressive mining operations (see the following videos on 'The Environment' and 'Indigenous Peoples'), harm to 'customers' and the injurious defilement of a 'willing' and 'industrious' workforce as neoliberal competition and domination proliferates.   

In discussing corporate crime, though, it is imperative to define its nature and to distinguish it from white-collar crime. By far, white-collar crime is the least destructive and is defined as those crimes carried out by individuals for their self-interest but, with only a few exceptions, is directed mainly at the expense of the employer. By contrast, corporate crimes are the activities of individuals, groups and the overall corporation on behalf of, and of intended benefit to, the corporation.Thus, Kramer (1984) defined corporate crime as:

...criminal acts (of omission or commission) which are the result of deliberate decision making (or culpable negligence) of those who occupy structural positions within the organisation as corporate executive managers. These decisions are organisationally based—made in accordance with the normative goals (primarily corporate profit), standard operating procedures and the cultural norms of the organisation—and are intended to benefit the corporation itself.

 

Crucially, this definition takes into account inaction or tacit acceptance, which is considered endemic within corporations, in order to enhance profit. Such inaction can, in essence, include failure to acknowledge different legislations or act upon wrong or unlawful activity despite the consequences being detrimental to both employees and the general public. To reiterate, corporate crime can be conceptualised by the rational choices of employees violating the law or government regulations for the benefit of the corporation (Box 1983). Accordingly, such actions are generally economic in nature and seek to advance the company rather than the perpetrator. Yet corporations are usually able to evade the law due to their power, class and influence. However, it is believed that due to the prioritisation of profit, corporate criminality is widespread within capitalist systems (Box, 1983; Slapper and Tombs 1999; Whyte 2004).

 

To make matters worse, these are activities that happen within the law and are allowed due to a distinct failure-cum-lack of State policy and regulation. Indeed, overarching criminal law diffuses attention by seeking individual not company responsibility for crimes. Under these circumstances, apportioning blame is extremely difficult in terms of finding an irresponsible individual, and then proving intent. Likewise, the overall situation is even more complex and obscure as prosecution under the definitions of corporate crime are, incomprehensibly, approved and informed by corporate agendas: thus providing yet another reason/motivation for the comital of irresponsible, competitive practices to achieve a dominant position in the 'just' and 'free' market (see 'Neoliberal Greed' for more). And it is precisely these unjustifiable practices that (In)Justice International is determined to expose and eradicate.