White Collar crime generally encompasses a variety of non violent crimes that are usually committed in commercial situations for financial gain. They are generally committed by high ranking professionals, politicians or business people. These people often by virtue of their occupation, exploit social, economic or technological power for personal or financial gain. The scope of white collar crime includes cybercrime, healthcare fraud, intellectual property crimes, embezzlement, bribery, conspiracy, occlusion of justice, perjury, money laundering, antitrust violations, trust crimes and regulatory violations.
In Bangladesh white collar crimes are on the rise. Here politics has criminalized and corruption has taken strong hold. Transparency International (TI), a German based non-governmental organization, has identified Bangladesh as the most corrupt country in the world for consecutive five years. But in 2013 it increased and positioned 14. People of upper socio-economic class, ruling elites and people of different groups are committing white collar crimes in Bangladesh. They are making huge amounts of money by corruption, manipulation and abuse of power causing severe detriment to the national economy.
In Bangladesh, not only the people of upper socioeconomic class are involved in white collar crime, the people from top to bottom are practicing this vice, so far corruption, bribery and other malpractices are concerned. All the categories of white collar crimes are present here, but corruption occupies the most prominent place. In identifying and discussing white collar crime in Bangladesh, all pervasive corruption has taken the foremost priority. Greed and unlimited desires, in the absence of sufficient social control, seem to contribute to these crimes and its voluminous increase. Anomie and social control theorists suggest that when social control is either absent or weakens, it will lead to deregulation in the society, where many problems arise. (Ahmed, 2013)
The focus on my research will be on two subtopics- Since, Bangladesh stands in the 143rd place out of 180 most corrupted countries in the world therefore finding justice for these kinds of crimes is nearly impossible, I would like to know if and how the offenders should be punished. White Collar Crimes destroy enormous amounts of shareholder values in companies. In corporate crimes, perpetrators of crimes who are punished pay a wbprice financially and professionally. But what is less obvious or widely recognized is the damage to employees who had nothing to do with the crime. In Bangladesh, the low rate of legal action against the perpetrators most likely reflects the practical challenges of prosecuting white-collar criminals: Evidence that an individual committed an act doesn’t suffice; there also has to be proof that he or she intended to commit it or had knowledge of wrongdoing. Given the potential penalties and reputational risks to companies, corporate attorneys often advise executives to quietly dismiss perpetrators without any legal action.
The focus of my research will also be the effects it has in our society. Most experts agree that the economic impact of white-collar crime is far more costly than ordinary crime. White-collar crime can endanger employees through unsafe working conditions, injure consumers because of dangerous products, and cause pollution problems for a community. Sociologists have emphasized that white-collar crimes are particularly harmful to society because they are committed by persons in power who are expected to set a moral example and behave responsibly. (Meier & Short, 1982)
White Collar crime, which is a nonviolent crime done for financial gain, originated in 1949 and was recognized by sociologist Edwin Sutherland. He defined it as ‘crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation. Over the years, white collar crimes surged as advancements in technology and new financial products appeared. For instance, Credit Suisse was found guilty in 2014 by helping US citizens to avoid paying taxes by hiding income from the Internal Revenue Service. The bank then agreed to pay a penalty of $2.6 billion. (Chen, 2020). In 1997 the UK witnessed one of the biggest white collar crimes. The former shipping tycoon Abbas Gokal was imprisoned for 14 years as he was a part of the collapse of Bank of Credit & Commerce International. He had created a web of loans which totalled $1.2 billion (£794 million). The Social Fraud Office also got a hold of Kevin Foster who was imprisoned for 10 years as he developed a pyramid scheme. It was a football betting scheme where he takes stakes from his colleagues, promising them a fivefold return on their money, and encouraging participants to roll over their winnings and invest further in his next scheme.
From there, he expanded his scheme, named it KF Concept in 2002, and launched a series of roadshows in England, Wales and Scotland. He was able to extract a total of £34m from more than 8,500 investors. His main targets were low-income small towners who were very close to each other. Foster was charged in 2007 which led to a trial and conviction in 2010. During his investigation, it was found that £12m of the money raised had been channeled into an illegal pyramid investment scheme, Planline,of which only £1,703 was ever recovered. It was also found that he had used a large amount of this money for living a luxurious life. (Kevin Foster (fraudster), 2020) Sutherland started examining White Collar crimes during the depression in the 1930s.His enthusiasm for this subject came from the search for the general theory of crime. During his time which also happens now, people used to find the reason for these crimes to be due to poverty, unemployment and other pathological factors but he argued that these cannot be used as justification for crimes committed by people of high social and respectable status. The webpage says, “In the book-length version of the speech, [“The White Collar Criminal”] which appeared a decade later, Sutherland aimed simultaneously to weaken theories depending on the behavior of the deprived and the depraved, and to provide support for his own social-learning approach to crime causation—the theory of differential association.” His book focused not on the persons but on the crimes of organizations which were seventy large corporations and fifteen public utilities; like sometimes it focused on persons of high status, sometimes on occupations and other times on corporate bodies. This book stirred up a great controversy as it had – “described the illegalities committed by those corporations, arguing that the corporations share most of the characteristics of professional thieves: their offenses are deliberate and organized, they are often recidivists, and they show disdain for law.” This made some people consider this book as a holy grail while others found it misleading. Most people disagreed with the book because of the concept of the crime. The crimes Sutherland had researched and written about were rarely prosecuted in the court and many legal officials said that these were not even considered crimes. Sutherland answered this by saying that these businessmen had great power over the legal proceedings which helped them to avoid any punishments for their crimes. (White Collar Crime: History of an Idea, n.d.)
Bangladesh is not the out of victim of white collar crime, rather this type of crime led the country into a higher corrupted country in the world from 2001 to 2005 correspondingly. Here the politicians who hold the power are mostly criminalized and corrupted. (White Collar Crime in Bangladesh, pp. 4.3, 2015) Bangladesh has followed other creating nations in an equivalent grasp of professional culpability. The quick improvement in economy and mechanical development in late decades has expanded clerical violations in the current day. Already (during the time of BNP-Jamat govt.) the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has recognized Bangladesh has been the most corrupt nation for five successive years. Individuals of the upper financial class, administering elites and individuals of various gatherings are perpetrating desk wrongdoings in Bangladesh. They are making a lot of money through debasement, control and the maltreatment of intensity, making extreme inconvenience to the public economy. The professions of humanity such as –Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer, NGO holder, teachers are not out of this. It is common knowledge that certain professions offer lucrative opportunities for criminal acts and unethical persons in business, various professions and even in public life. They will in general become corrupt due to their disregard at school, home and other social organizations where individuals get prepared for citizenship and character building. These deviants have meager respect for genuineness and other moral qualities. In this manner they carry on their criminal operations without risk of punishment without the dread of loss of notoriety or status. (Babu, 2017)