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October 19, 2015

Prosecution of Corporations Drops under Obama

The Obama administration has pursued far fewer corporate criminal prosecutions than occurred under George W. Bush, a new study shows. After reviewing hundreds of thousands of records obtained from the Department of Justice, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) found criminal prosecutions of corporations declined by nearly 30% from 335 in 2004 to 237 in 2014. The drop was remarkable, considering it “not only followed headline-grabbing scandals at financial, accounting and energy firms but also occurred even as the number of corporate crime cases referred to prosecutors has increased,” David Sirota wrote at the International Business Times. The no-prosecution policy has continued in cases such as the General Motors ignition switch debacle, in which the company knew the switch was defective and continued to install it in vehicles. At least 124 people have died as a result of that. However, no individual GM officials were prosecuted for the crime, with Justice officials emphasizing the company’s remediation efforts, according to TRAC. One federal prosecutor told TRAC on background that “he did not recall a similar ‘collateral consequences’ memo advising prosecutors when considering the indictment of a bank robber or car thief.”

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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