Sunday, October 31, 2010

Corporate Crime: Cost of Doing Business?



“CVS Fined for Sale of Meth Ingredient: Pharmacy Agrees to Pay $75 Million,” ADG (10-15-10). CVS Pharmacy Inc. “agreed to pay $75 million in fines for allowing repeated purchases of a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine in at least five states that also led to a spike in Southern California drug trafficking….the largest civil penalty ever assessed under the Controlled Substances Act,” according to federal prosecutors. No executive was imprisoned. What was CVS’s income? How significant a fine is this, when nobody goes to jail? How just is a system that might send a person to prison for many years for selling a few ounces of mushrooms or growing an acre of marijuana, but no corporate exec goes to jail huge crimes?

“Judge OKs Dell Fraud-Claim Settlement,” ADG (10-14-10). Dell Inc., the world’s third-biggest maker of personal computers, was fined $100 million and its founder Michael Dell $4 million, its former CEO and former Chief financial officer $4 million and $3 million respectively for accounting-fraud. Schneider was suspended from appearing or practicing before the SEC as an accountant for five years. Dell was allowed to remain chief executive officer. How punitive are these fines, compared to going to jail. How much did the fraud enrich Dell as a corporation and the three executives? “The “exclusivity payments” kept secret from investors “helped Dell reach earnings targets from 2001 to 2006.” How big were the earnings? And comparatively speaking, how much are peanut fraud criminals punished? Our justice system is unfair partly because comparative contexts are not central to sentencing, and this should include global comparisons, particularly in a country like the US where profits are so huge, not only for executive salaries and bonuses, but for fixing the laws to favor corporations and the rich.


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