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March 6, 2020

‘It’s disturbing.’ U.S. Justice Department white-collar criminal prosecutions fall to their lowest level on record, study says
By Brett Arends

The U.S. Justice Department is prosecuting fewer white-collar criminals now than at any time since records back more than 30 years ago, a new report says. Federal prosecutions of white-collar criminals plunged in January to the lowest level on record, falling 25% from the levels reached just five years ago, says a study from Syracuse University. The 5,702 white-collar prosecutions recorded last year are expected to fall to 5,175 this year, if current levels of prosecutions persist, the study added. Records go back to 1986 during the Reagan administration when there were 7,843 white-collar prosecutions. Just 359 defendants were charged in January, compared to over 1,000 a month at the peaks in 2010 and 2011, according to the university’s TRAC Reports service, which monitors activity data at various federal agencies. Prosecutions hit a high after the financial crisis, and following the exposure of massive frauds, such as that of Bernie Madoff, which went undetected by the federal government for years. If prosecutions continue at the same pace for the remainder of 2020, they are projected to fall to 5,175 — almost half the level of their Obama-era peak” in 2011, said the center in a statement. Prosecutions were down for individuals and for businesses, the center reported. Prosecutions against individuals typically make up 99% or more of all white-collar crime prosecutions.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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