Corporate crime, also called white-collar crime or organized crime, refers to criminal offenses that are committed by persons during the course of legitimate business activities. The crimes are often non-violent and involve such crimes as fraud, insider trading, and money laundering. Another type of offense is state-corporate crime, in which the corporations that rely on states for financial support commit crimes to gain profits illegally. The principals and directors of corporations can be charged with corporate crimes, and the corporation itself can be organized to commit crimes. The employees of businesses and corporations may also commit crimes, often without the knowledge of the owners or principals of the business.
The term white-collar is often associated with professional workers who wear business shirts, as opposed to blue-collar for workers in industrial or low-wage jobs. Many of the individuals who have been charged with corporate crime are considered middle or upper class in their society and are professional workers. The crimes that they commit in business settings do not often involve crimes of violence, such as murder or battery. Those who commit white-collar crimes commit non-violent crimes, involving unethical activities, fraud, and financial theft. For example, health care fraud is a type of corporate crime where employees submit fraudulent information in order to obtain increased amounts of reimbursements from an insurance company for medical services.
The corporation or business entity is said to commit a corporate crime if it is organized for that purpose. The mission of a corporation of this type is to use illegal means to gain profits and remain in business. The crime is often carried out by all levels of the corporation, such as the board of directors, the officers, and corporate managers. Some of the criminal offenses that are common to corporate criminals include falsification of corporate financial statements, corporate abuse of anti-trust laws, and bribing government officials for their corporation’s gain. When corporations are organized for money laundering purposes, they can be charged with corporate crimes.
Some laws make it possible to defer the prosecution of a corporate crime, and some criminals may even be able to avoid it. The non-prosecution agreement and the deferred prosecution agreement are examples of ways that criminals can work with law enforcement to avoid or delay prosecution. With a deferred prosecution agreement, the government charges the accused, but may drop the charges within a certain period of time if the corporation does not commit any further crimes. The non-prosecution agreement allows criminals to pay a fine but avoid being charged with crimes.