Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
NY Law Journal
December 8, 2021

Signaling Tougher Tone, Biden Administration Steps Backward
By Robert J. Anello and Richard F. Albert


The Trump Administration de-prioritized white-collar enforcement. As discussed previously in this column, the Trump Administrationís pronouncements indicated a resource shift to other law enforcement priorities such as immigration and violent crime, and policy changes reflected the view that prior enforcement efforts had imposed excessive costs on business. See Anello and Albert, White-Collar Criminal Enforcement in the Era of Trump, NYLJ (Feb. 8, 2018). Indeed, over the course of Trumpís term, the empirical evidence confirmed that the number of white-collar prosecutions and the amounts of penalties imposed dipped substantially. For example, an analysis released in March 2020 by Syracuse Universityís Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that, as of that date, the number of defendants charged with white-collar crimes in 2019 was the lowest annual total since the DOJ began tracking them back in 1986, and that as of the date of the report, for 2020, the number was trending more than 9% below 2019ís all-time low. A November 2018 New York Times article identified a 72% decline in corporate financial penalties in criminal prosecutions by the Justice Department from $14.15 billion under the last 20 months of the Obama Administration to $3.93 billion under the first 20 months under the Trump Administration. See Protess et al., The Trump Administration Spares Corporate Wrongdoers Billions, New York Times (Nov. 3, 2018). The data confirmed what practitioners observed: White-collar investigations and enforcement actions, particularly big ones, were fewer and farther between.


Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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