Corporations don’t commit crimes

No, corporations do not commit crimes.  Corporate executives commit crimes.  There is a difference.

The U.S. Department of Justice charged JP Morgan Chase with various crimes, including fraudulent sale of mortgage-backed securities, covering up losses, rigging electricity prices and aiding and abetting Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.  Last September Attorney General Eric Holder announced a settlement of the case, in which JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay nearly $20 billion in fines.

The company responded by laying off 7,500 employees and freezing the pay of employees below the executive level.  But now the board of directors raised the pay of CEO Jamie Dimon, who had ultimate responsibility for the illegal actions, from $11.5 million a year to $20 million.

As Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone pointed out in a recent post on his web log.

Eric Holder and Barack Obama … decided last year to make a big show of punishing JP Morgan Chase as a symbol of bank corruption, then forgot to punish the actual persons who oversaw the bank’s misdeeds.  This is a little like reining in a school bully by halving his school’s budget.  It doesn’t work.  Crimes are committed by people, and justice has to target people, too.  Otherwise the whole thing is a joke.

But from the board of directors’ point of view, the fine is less than the $25 billion in TARP funds that Dimon got from the federal government when the company was on the verge of collapse.


Click on Jamie Dimon’s Raise Proves U.S. Regulatory Strategy Is a Joke for the whole article by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Click on JP Morgan Chase, Penance and Fines for an account of JP Morgan Chase’s misdeeds by Christopher Brauchli for Huffington Post.

Click on Dimon Does Davos, and His Board Gives Him a Raise for more by Bill Black.

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2 Responses to “Corporations don’t commit crimes”

  1. thetinfoilhatsociety Says:

    If they were to actually insist on treating JP Morgan as a person, then the corporation should have been forbidden from participating in any financial or legal transactions, much like a prison sentence, for a designated period of time. Plus the actual persons responsible should have been tried and convicted. I really hate these games they are playing. If a corporation is indeed a person, then that person should be held accountable in the same way.


  2. philebersole Says:

    My argument is that a corporation is not like an individual person, any more than New York state or science fiction fandom is like an individual person. They are all groups of individuals who are within a certain social structure.

    The problem with pretending that crimes are committed by corporations and not individual persons is that the innocent suffer and the guilty escape responsibility.

    There is no reason to think that the 7,500 JP Morgan Chase employees who were laid off are guilty of anything in particular. Yet they are the ones who are punishes, not the real perpetrators.


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