White Collar Prosecutions Future
July 30, 2018
Under the administration of President Donald J. Trump, white collar crime prosecutions have fallen to a 20-year low, reversing the increase in such prosecutions found under the Obama administration. As of 2018, the number of such prosecutions has dropped by more than one-third since 2013, according to Bloomberg News.
The FBI continues as the lead investigative agency behind the majority of white collar crime prosecutions, at roughly one-third, while the Secret Service and IRS both bring roughly 10 percent each, and the U.S. Postal Service brings about 9 percent. The Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office pursues the most cases, followed by the federal prosecutor’s office in Florida.
However, the future of criminal prosecutions under the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) appears to lie in going after individuals, rather than their corporations.
The Focus on Immigration
Under Trump, the Department of Justice is focusing less attention on white collar crime and putting more of its resources toward prosecuting immigration and drug crimes. When it comes to white collar crime prosecution, the DOJ has stated that it will pursue individuals accused of corporate criminal behavior, it will not extract “unfair” settlements from corporations.
In late 2017, federal prosecutors stated they will apply leniency in cases involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, if the corporation in question cooperates with them and voluntarily discloses its conduct.
The Tuna Price Fixing Case
One example of the change in focus is the price fixing scandal surrounding the proposed merger of tuna packagers Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee. Had the merger, announced in 2014, gone through, the company would have commanded half of the country’s tuna sales. However, during an antitrust review of the proposal, the DOJ found a “massive conspiracy” among Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, and rival StarKist, to fix tuna prices.
Chicken of the Sea’s parent company promptly left the deal and began cooperating with the DOJ, in return for prosecutorial amnesty. In 2016 and 2017, two executives from Bumble Bee and one from StarKist pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges brought by the federal government. All have turned state’s evidence.
Last year, Bumble Bee pled guilty to the price-fixing charges, and will pay a fine between $25 million and $81.5 million, the latter going into effect if the company is sold. In May, 2018, Bumble Bee’s CEO was indicted on federal charges.
While this marks a change in practice, it actually originated in the Obama administration, after bankers responsible for the Great Recession, because of their lending practices, were not prosecuted.
A memo from then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates stated that investigations should focus on individual wrongdoers from the beginning, and corporations would not get credit for government cooperation unless they provided information on the individuals responsible.
Contact a Haddon Heights White Collar Crime Lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gossé
If you or a loved one have been charged with a white collar crime, you need the services of an experienced Haddon Heights white collar crime lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse. To schedule a free confidential consultation, call 856-546-6600 or complete the convenient online contact form today.