Corporate Bodies and Guilty MindsThe Failure of Corporate Criminal Liability

Corporate Bodies and Guilty MindsThe Failure of Corporate Criminal Liability

William S. Laufer

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226470405

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

We live in an era defined by corporate greed and malfeasance—one in which unprecedented accounting frauds and failures of compliance run rampant. In order to calm investor fears, revive perceptions of legitimacy in markets, and demonstrate the resolve of state and federal regulators, a host of reforms, high-profile investigations, and symbolic prosecutions have been conducted in response. But are they enough? This book argues that even with recent legal reforms, corporate criminal law continues to be ineffective. As evidence, this book considers the failure of courts and legislatures to fashion liability rules that fairly attribute blame for organizations. It analyzes the games that corporations play to deflect criminal responsibility. And it also demonstrates how the exchange of cooperation for prosecutorial leniency and amnesty belies true law enforcement. But none of these factors trump the fact that there is no single constituency or interest group that strongly and consistently advocates the importance and priority of corporate criminal liability. In the absence of a new standard of corporate liability, the power of regulators to keep corporate abuses in check will remain insufficient.