CCJ 2007 Sociology of Crime

Definitions of White Collar Crime

According to FBI, white-Collar crime also known as corporate crime refers to a non-violent, financially motivated crime committed by government officers, professionals or businesses. Examples of such a crime include bribery, cybercrime, wage theft, money laundering, Ponzi schemes, copyright infringement, embezzlement, forgery, identity theft, insider trading, labor racketeering among others (FBI.gov, 2020). On their part, Findlaw’s team of legal editors and writers consider white collar to be involving of those crimes motivated by financial gain and committed through deception. However, Findlaw extends the range of crimes in this category to include insurance fraud, mortgage fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion (Findlaw, 2020). Edwin Sutherland, the sociologist who first coined this term in 1949 defined it as a type of crime committed by someone who is respectable and in high social status where he/she works or stays (Friedrichs et al, 2017).

White collar crime poses negative implications on the personal and societal level. For instance, one who has been convicted of a white collar crime may face a prison sentence or fines depending on the nature and degree of crime committed. Such punishments could therefore lead to a loss of a person’s time, money or resources used to cater for the sentence or time spent in prison. This form of crime also has a devastating impact on the society. According to Victoria (2019), victims of white collar crimes also have a high like-hood of facing suicide or depression. When a business or company suffers from fraud of any source, it may be forced to raise costs in order to sustain itself. This means that consumers will buy the commodities at higher prices. Moreover, it may also imply lower pay for employees or even loss of jobs. Furthermore, it may also cause a possibility of investors or employees being unable to pay their loans while credit will become hard to obtain. What is more, scandals could lead to innocent employees losing their retirement accounts while investors will lose faith in the stock market; thus affecting the economy in general.

Why Punishment for White Collar Crimes Seems to Be Less Offensive Compared to Other Type of Crimes

White collar crimes have often been touted to be less punitive compared to common crimes. Gottschalk and Gunnesdal, (2018) found out that the disproportionate level of punishments in much of the white collar jobs was attributed to the usually high cost of the conviction and complexity involved in prosecutions; subsequently leading to lenient sentences and reduced charges for offenders. Sometimes, victims or concerned parties could simply ignore or choose not to pursue offenders through legal means owing to the cost to be involved, time or simply the complexity of finding evidence.

On his part, Cassidy and Gibbs (2019) established that the offender’s characteristics also played a role in determining the kind of punishments he or she could receive from the jury. For instance, the author noted tendency where white offenders were receiving harsher punishments for embezzlement compared to blacks while Black people had a higher likelihood of receiving harsh punishment for burglary compared to whites. What is more, it is also established that the liberals and those who are highly educated appear to be less punitive when compared to offenders with low education and conservatives.

Diamantis (2017)observes that a large junk of white collar crimes are categorized under organizational crimes, executed by people working on behalf of the very organization. It could be a government official working in a government department, an executive on behalf of a company, or a campaign worker on behalf of a campaign committee. Consequently, this makes it difficult to make decisions on who deserves to be punished compared with common crime. Potential targets could include the organization itself, former or current directors, all those individuals who were involved in committing the offense in various ways, those who were involved in the ordering, approval, those who were ignorant of the situation, those who knew but were negligent or just the head of the organization.

White Collar Crime Case Study in Australia

The white collar crime study case for this project is that of Former NewSat chief executive Adrian Ballintine who was recently convicted by an Australian court for authorizing fake invoices for the purpose of securing his bonus despite the company he was working in, Satellite Communications being in liquidity crisis (Main, 2020). According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) which instigated the charges, the former CEO had authorized three false invoices to channel $357,000 to his private enterprise between January 18, 2012 and September 15, 2012 (Kruger, 2020). The case definitely fits the white collar crime definition since first of all, it was executed by a company official with an aim for self-gain. In addition, the offender’s actions resulted into the collapse of the organization adversely affecting the source of income for investors, employees, suppliers and the significant others.

Nonetheless, from my perspective, the punishment imposed on Mr. Adrian Ballintine, a fine of $15,000 is too lenient considering that his actions let to the imminent collapse of Newsat. Moreover, this fine amount is not even reminiscent or has a huge impact on the one he stole $357,000; hence this makes a mockery of the criminal justice system in the eyes of the ordinary citizens. In other words, the fine would not affect his financial standings on a significant level considering that he could simply get a part of the stolen money and pay it off without being much affected. Evidently, the closure affected the company investors, employee, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders owing to loss of income. I think the lenient sentence to the offender could have been attributed to the fact that Mr. Adrian Ballintine was the founder of Newsat as well as the fact that he had been a darling of Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) (Baker and McKenzie, 2017).

Apart from the victims identified above, the case above certainly poses a larger social impact that can be identified as secondary victimization. For instance, in-case NewSat has some charity programs in place, then they were certainly ceased upon the collapse of the entity and the beneficiaries will suffer. Furthermore, the now jobless employees, investors and suppliers will now become a burden to the community and society at large since they will now start depending on others, involves themselves in crime, or lead to suffering of their dependants. What is more, the general negative implication of the whole economy is profound owing to the direct loss of financial contribution to the economy by the stakeholders involved.

The Theory of Offending Best Describing the Case Study

The behavior of Mr. Adrian Ballintine can best be described using a social psychological approach. According to this theory, human behavior is determined by the interplay of a system of punishments and rewards. The model stipulates human behavior to be influenced by the interactive system of interpersonal, personal and community rewards. Further, from the perspective of this framework, immediate preceding external and internal conditions may act to influence the behaviors occurring. Such antecedent controls could include thoughts, fantasies, images, beliefs concerning ones moods, abilities, as well as the presence of others who could act as a source of reward or punishment alongside the perceived consequences (Wong, & Thirumoorthi, 2015).

In this case, Mr. Adrian Ballintine could have been motivated to engage in these criminal activities because of the allure of the benefit he could get. By funneling $357,000 to his private business, his interest was to raise the value and profile for his company, with disregard to the implication of the company where he was serving. Perhaps, he didn’t care about the loss his actions would generate to the stakeholders but his focus was what he could gain from the actions. In other words, by being only concerned with the welfare of his business rather than the company he was working for, the former CEO could have been overpowered by self-interest and the desire to get rich quickly. It should also be noted that Mr. Adrian Ballintine did not play this role alone, but rather, he was also influenced to follow this route by Newsats tax advisor whose advice in making the illegal transactions Mr. Ballintine followed. Alongside these was other NewSat executives, consecutives, and directors and a shareholder in Mr. Ballintine's yacht business. From the view of the social psychological model, the role played by these people (presence of others) in influencing Adrian Ballintine criminal behavior could be well described as “conditions” and “controls” that influenced the direction that the offender took. It could also been true that Ballintine could as well been influenced by fantasies of making a good fortune from this corrupt activity, images of a good life from his company’s fortune, the desire for self-control or the belief on his abilities to recover the stolen amount could have also played a role in the decision he took.

How the Crime in The Case Study Can Best Be Reduced?

From my view, I think corporate fraud like the one discussed above should be best dealt with through heavy fines or harsher imprisonment terms. I have strong feelings that the lenient fine and imprisonment terms accorded to such culprits is motivating other individuals to steal from companies and government departments since after all, they “will pay just a small fine of it and get out of it”. As it stands now, a lot of people are ready to risk paying fine or serving a short sentence by reaping where they have not shown and enrich themselves in the long run without caring about the interest of owners, employees, customers, the society, suppliers among others. For me, this is an injustice to the society and criminal system and which should be addressed accordingly. Considering the state of the matter as it pertains to white collar crimes punishments, there is certainly a need for a dramatic increase in the financial penalties under the current business regulatory statutes in Australia.

Other reform options that can be explored include community service orders; where the culprits are required to serve the community over a specific period with no pay, adverse publicity; whereby the offender is barred from holding position of any capacity whether in a government entity or private enterprise and or corporate probation whereby; the criminals conduct in professional capacity is reviewed over time and action taken to deter such behavior in future. These ideas had at one time developed and advocated by the South Australian Penal Methods and Criminal Law Reform Committee established in (1978) popularly then known as the Mitchell Committee. However, these ideas which are also advocated by the current governor of South Australia have been largely ignored by the Australian authorities and governments. Consequently, rampant corruption, fraud, bribery and financial embezzlement of corporations is almost the order of the day in Australia.

Fredericks, McComas., and Weatherby (2016) agrees on the need to raise sentences for social security cheats as well as convicted fraudsters accounting for fraud convictions. Alongside these is introduction of corporate sanctions which include but not limited to seizure of assets for offenders. These proposals if well implement will go a long way towards addressing the problem of the prevalent and increase rate of white collar criminals that have cause a significant level of social ills in Australian societies.

References for Criminology Assignment 

Baker, R., and McKenzie, N. (2017). First criminal charges in NewSat scandal. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/business/first-criminal-charges-in-newsat-scandal-20171219-h072e2.html

Diamantis, M.(2017). White collar showdown. Retrieved from https://ilr.law.uiowa.edu/online/volume-102/white-collar-showdown/

FBI.gov. (2020). White collar crime. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime.

Fredericks KA, McComas RE, Weatherby GA. (2016). White collar crime: recidivism, deterrence, and social impact. Forensic Res Criminol Int J . 2016;2(1):5-14. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00039

Findlaw. (2020). White Collar Crime. Retrieved from https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/white-collar-crime.html

Friedrichs, D., Schoultz, I., & Jordanoska, A. (2017). Edwin H. Sutherland. (Routledge Key Thinkers in Criminology; Vol. 2). London: Routledge.

Gottschalk P., Gunnesdal L. (2018). White-Collar Crime Research. In: White-Collar Crime in the Shadow Economy. Palgrave Pivot, Cham

Main, L. (2020). Ex-NewSat CEO convicted for $357,500 in fake invoices. Retrieved from https://www.afr.com/companies/telecommunications/ex-newsat-ceo-convicted-for-357-500-in-fake-invoices-20200304-p546w1

Kruger, C (2020). Former Newsat boss pleads guilty to false invoice charge. Retrieved from https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/former-newsat-boss-pleads-guilty-to-false-invoice-charge-20200217-p541l2.html

Wong, B., & Thirumoorthi, T. (2015). Social Psychology Theories.  Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/16121024/Chapter_18_Social_Psychology_Theories

Victoria, Artur. (2019). White Collar Crime. 10.13140/RG.2.2.19821.64483.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Criminology Assignment Help

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