On May 24, David O. Friedrichs protested a “widely held but fundamentally wrongheaded way of thinking about crime,” in a letter to the New York Times. Friedrichs, the author of “Trusted Criminals: White-Collar Crime in Contemporary Society,” was responding to an article on a decline in “major crime” that focused on murder, rape and robbery but made no mention of corporate crime.
A criminal justice professor at the University of Scranton, Friedrichs insisted in his letter, and in a subsequent article in the Corporate Crime Reporter newsletter, that white-collar crime has further reaching, deeper and more lasting impact than street crime. “Although it is far more challenging to measure [white-collar] crime,” he wrote the Times, “there are reasons to believe it may not be in decline, and may well be rising.”
“There has been a permanent shift in perceptions of white-collar criminals,” says Toby Bishop, director of the Deloitte Forensic Center. “The focus is on the stain on the collar, not on the color of the collar.”
Governments around the world are more sensitive than ever to the fact that economic turmoil halfway around the planet can have dramatic effects at home. That feeds directly into enforcement efforts, particularly around corruption.