Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Criminalization of Corporate Law

As a white collar criminal defense attorney, I'm seeing the very disturbing trend by federal and state governments to criminalize poor business judgment (as opposed to fraud or theft). This is very good for my business, but very bad for society.

In my opinion, it's partly driven by our declining violent crime rate and our increasing need for prosecutors and district attorneys to politically improve themselves by going after "business". What better way to make the newspapers and television then to indict corporate leaders (especially small business owners with much more limited means to defend themselves). With fewer violent crimes in which to get ratings, a prosecutor needs to get them by indicting businesses. Thus the need for ambiguous business crimes, which no one understands, except the prosecutor who files the charge to fit his/her political needs.

The University of Maryland School of Law just had former Securities Fraud prosecutor David Anders speak yesterday at its "Criminalization of Corporate Law" Roundtable.

It's getting so bad out there, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Legal Foundation is devoting more of its resources towards helping businesses fight criminal prosecution (rather than onerous administrative regulations).

The message is clear out there now - start a business with the real risk of being prosecuted as a criminal some day. Start a business and you are now a government tax collector, immigration law enforcer and social worker implementing the latest government social benefit craze. Once you're done with this, then you can do what you thought business was all about - serving your customer. But only after you finish your jail term.

No comments: