13 September 2016
Attorney general proposes expansion of ‘white collar crime’
Senior corporate executives could be prosecuted for offences carried out by staff, including fraud and money laundering, under an expansion of laws targeting so-called white-collar crime.
"Failure to prevent" offences currently cover only bribery and tax evasion. Attorney General Jeremy Wright says the Government will consult on plans to extend the list to include a wider range of economic crimes committed by employees, also including false accounting.
Current laws require evidence of corporate misconduct to be found at the highest level.
In a speech to the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime. Mr Wright said: "When considering the question 'where does the buck stop?' and who is responsible for economic crime, it is clear that the answer is to be found at every level, from the boardroom down. Both corporations and individuals are responsible.
"The intention of the Government actions I have described is not only to prosecute and to fine for breaches of the law, but to promote a culture of corporate responsibility so that we are addressing the threat earlier on and not just reacting to it through investigation and prosecution."
Writing in The Guardian in May ahead of the London summit, former prime minister David Cameron said new laws would mean "firms are properly held to account for criminal activity that takes place within them".
"In practice the evidence trail usually dries much lower down the corporate tree. There is no responsibility for the damage caused by failing to prevent economic crime nor incentives offered which motivate people to do the wrong thing."
Mr Wright added: "A change in culture is something that will take time but the results, as we are already starting to see, will be worth the effort."