News Release

Obama Officials at Conference on Corporate Crime

Several current Obama administration officials will be attending a conference on Friday sponsored by Corporate Crime Reporter titled “Neither Admit Nor Deny: Corporate Crime in the Age of Deferred Prosecutions, Consent Decrees, Whistleblowers & Monitors.” Government officials scheduled to speak include Mythili Raman, the acting head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. The new SEC co-director of enforcement — Andrew Ceresney — is scheduled to be making his first public appearance and statement.

RUSSELL MOKHIBER, russellmokhiber at gmail.com
Mokhiber is editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, which is organizing the conference. He just wrote the piece “The Failure to Prosecute Corporate Crime Undermines U.S. Justice,” for Reuters, which states: “Imagine you are driving down the highway at 90 mph where the posted speed limit is 55 mph. As a result of your speeding, you lose control of your vehicle. And you cause a wreck that kills people. Here’s a sure bet: you will be convicted of a crime. You will admit wrongdoing. And you will be punished.

“Now suppose a corporation engages in illegal activity while operating a coal mine. And that illegal activity leads to the death of 29 of its workers. Here’s another sure bet: that corporation will not be convicted of a crime. And it will not be punished.

“The reality is that we live in a two-tier criminal justice system in America, with one level for corporations and one for living, breathing humans. The coal mine corporation is a real one, Massey Energy. In April 2010, a huge explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 workers.

“In December 2011, the U.S. Labor Department issued a 972-page report concluding that ‘unlawful policies and practices’ were the “root cause of this tragedy.” The company had a long history of skirting the law and in the Upper Big Branch case kept two sets of books ‑ one for internal use, which identified workplace hazards at the mine, and one to show law enforcement, which didn’t. …

“But on the same day that the Labor Department issued its report, the Justice Department decided to instead enter into a ‘non-prosecution agreement’ with the company. The company was not required to admit to wrongdoing.

“The two most important law enforcement entities in Washington — Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission — have taken a kid-glove approach to the corporate criminal activity that arguably inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.” Also see the recent article in Corporate Crime Reporter: “Ralph Lauren Gets Not One, But Two FCPA Non Prosecution Agreements.”

Also speaking at the conference will be David Uhlmann, former chief of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and currently a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. In a forthcoming Maryland Law Reviewarticle titled “Deferred Prosecution and Non-Prosecution Agreements and the Erosion of Corporate Criminal Liability,” Uhlmann argues that the Justice Department “must amend its corporate prosecution policies to curtail the misuse of deferred and non-prosecution agreements.”

Uhlmann continues, “If it fails to change course, the Department will further erode the concept of corporate crime, undermine the rule of law, and breed cynicism about our criminal justice system.”

Also, see: Ralph Nader “Boston, Texas and Corporate Criminal Justice.”