News Release

“Prison for the Corporate Criminal Elite”


AP reports: “Former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell was sentenced to 28 years in prison by a U.S. District Court judge Monday. Randy Napier, whose 80-year-old mother died from salmonella poisoning after eating the company’s peanut butter, said the punishment should ‘send a message to the other manufacturers’ of American foods.” AP also reports: “Volkswagen has now admitted that it intentionally installed software programmed to switch engines to a cleaner mode during official emissions testing. The software then switches off again, enabling cars to drive more powerfully on the road while emitting as much as 40 times the legal pollution limit.”

RUSSELL MOKHIBER, russellmokhiber at, @CorpCrimeReport
Mokhiber is the editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, a legal weekly print newsletter based in Washington, D.C.
He said today: “Earlier this year, Russian political figure Yevgeny Primakov passed away. In an obituary in July, the Economist magazine reported that Primakov’s chances for the presidency vanished after he promised that he would ’empty the jails to make room for Russia’s business elite.’

“It’s not just Russia where criminal prosecution is about brute political power. It’s in the United States too. GM knowingly markets automobiles with a defective engine switch, more than 150 people die as a result, and no GM executive is criminally prosecuted. There is no corporate guilty plea. Instead, GM gets a deferred prosecution agreement — a form of diversion meant for first time drug dealers. And it’s not just GM. Toyota got one for similar wrongdoing. HSBC got one in a huge money laundering case. There are literally hundreds of cases of large powerful corporate criminals who should be criminally prosecuted, but are getting these special deals. Rarely are the executives criminally prosecuted. Yes, the peanut company executive got 28 years in prison for ordering the shipment of peanut paste contaminated by salmonella that killed nine people. But that was Peanut Corporation of America, not GM or HSBC or VW or JPMorgan Chase. It’s past time to make room in our prisons for the corporate criminal elite.”