Too Big to Jail

Too Big to Jail

How Prosecutors Compromise With Corporations

Book - 2014
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American courts routinely hand down harsh sentences to individual convicts, but a very different standard of justice applies to corporations. Too Big to Jail takes readers into a complex, compromised world of backroom deals, for an unprecedented look at what happens when criminal charges are brought against a major company in the United States.

Federal prosecutors benefit from expansive statutes that allow an entire firm to be held liable for a crime by a single employee. But when prosecutors target the Goliaths of the corporate world, they find themselves at a huge disadvantage. The government that bailed out corporations considered too economically important to fail also negotiates settlements permitting giant firms to avoid the consequences of criminal convictions. Presenting detailed data from more than a decade of federal cases, Brandon Garrett reveals a pattern of negotiation and settlement in which prosecutors demand admissions of wrongdoing, impose penalties, and require structural reforms. However, those reforms are usually vaguely defined. Many companies pay no criminal fine, and even the biggest blockbuster payments are often greatly reduced. While companies must cooperate in the investigations, high-level employees tend to get off scot-free.

The practical reality is that when prosecutors face Hydra-headed corporate defendants prepared to spend hundreds of millions on lawyers, such agreements may be the only way to get any result at all. Too Big to Jail describes concrete ways to improve corporate law enforcement by insisting on more stringent prosecution agreements, ongoing judicial review, and greater transparency.

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014
ISBN: 9780674368316
Characteristics: 365 pages ; 25 cm


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Feb 07, 2015

[Update, 12/2016: A couple of factoids just connected, and the Enron bizarre prosecution suddenly made diabolical sense. I always wondered why they never prosecuted them outright for hiding all that debt offshore back then, clearly financial fraud and illegal, yet they chose the most banal and mundane strategy which could have failed? At the time of the Enron trials, et cetera, they - - meaning the Elites - - were pushing for the legitimization of what Enron was doing, as so many banks and investment firms were doing the very exact same thing, and would be doing more and more of it. They were pushing the financial standards board to pass FIN46R, which was adopted in 2003 [I may not be recalling the correct number, but something like that] which allowed for, or legitimized, the off-balance sheet accounting of such debt and financial instruments as Enron was doing. The leader of the Enron gov't prosecution team back then was Mary Jo White [Bush Administration], who would be appointed by Obama to head up SEC, in order to be sure she kept the lid on what she helped bring about, that is, interdicted any serious prosecutions into such cases. Just recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote a scathing letter to President Obama demanding the corrupt Mary Jo White be terminated, and suddenly and FINALLY the SEC announced an investigation into the criminal organization, Wells Fargo, and those 2 million fraudulent accounts they created! Please note the economic warfare continuity between the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations!]

I hesitate to comment on this book, given Judge Rakoff's outstanding review of it in The New York Review of Books [Feb. 19, 2015] - - and would have to repeat his opinion: the author does sterling research, but his opinions baffle: Pfizer has been given endless deferred prosecutions, yet continues to commit the same crimes? Ditto too many others. Deferred prosecutions were originally intended for juvenile offenders, not major corporations! Do not understand the author? [FYI: Judge Rakoff is one of the few honest federal judges alive today in America.]


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