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Punishment of Traditional Crimes vs White Collar Crime

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When we hear the word ‘crime,’ we automatically assume that it involves criminal or civil crimes

These crimes usually involve people in robberies, murders, or even injuries. However, there are also crimes that are committed by a company or a business. Business crimes or white collar crimes are crimes committed by a businesses or government professional. These crimes are often committed using confidential information attained by an individual to commit fraud. There are diverse types of white collar crimes, including tax fraud, telemarketing fraud, and insider trading.

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The Santhanam Committee report for the first time attached great importance to the emergence of offences and mal-practices known as “white-collar” crime, which was also acknowledged by the 29th Law commission report in 1972. The Santhanam Committee report recognised the emergence of ‘mass society’ with small controlling elite, encouraging growth of monopolies and the deviance from ethical behaviour which led to growth of white-collar and economic crimes. The report expressed its concern towards such crimes by opining that this crime was more dangerous, not only because the financial stakes were higher but also they caused irreparable damage to public morals.The awareness of the common man towards these crimes is dismal or there is a ‘relatively unorganised resentment of the public’ towards such crimes as the violations in such cases can be appreciated only by experts, secondly due to the complexity of these crimes they cannot be easily presented as news and probably because these agencies of communication are owned by businessmen involved in the violations of many of these laws. White-collar crime, it is stated, goes undetected because it “transcends the visibility of ordinary cheating practices of small merchants”. It can however, be gathered from reports of investigating committees or from conversation with intimate friends

Another fact that merits serious attention is that white-collar crimes being a characteristic of acquisitive and affluent society, they do not exist in India on the scale on which it exists in England and America, but is not totally absent. The Indian society is by no means affluent, but it is gradually becoming acquisitive, particularly in the urban areas. Corruption of administrative officers, embezzlement by top officials of MNC’s and corporations, evasion of tax (particularly income-tax) by persons who fall in the higher income group, smuggling of goods which are scarce in the our country (such as gold, watches and transistor-radio sets) and deliberate breach of foreign exchange regulations, may be cited as instances of white-collar crime in our country.

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Champion (2011) defines white collar crimes as “a non violent crime, usually committed in commercial situations, for financial gain.” The Federal Bureau of Investigations cites the use of concealment, deceit or trust-violation as the primary mechanisms for committing these crimes. Calabresi & Saporito (2012) explains that convicted offenders may serve jail time upon completion of their cases. Sometimes this could range from a few months to several years depending on the extent of offense. The courts could also decide to impose fines for such crimes. A case in point was the payment of a 1-million-dollar fine for fraud by a Wall Street investor

However, this is contingent on how the prosecutor collected the evidence in the first place. Most law enforcement officials rely on wire taps to nub white collar criminals, yet the law limits use of wire taps unless one has probable cause for the commission of a crime. Additionally, the lack of standard definitions of insider trading limits successful prosecution and incarceration of suspects. Most white-collar crimes take the form of insider trading; as a consequence, ambivalent definitions and standards on the same impede law enforcers from taking actions. A lot of dynamics come into play when a judge must decide on the threshold of insider trading that leads to criminal violations.

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Generally speaking, it is not everyday that we hear about white-collar crimes but these non-violent crimes are on the rise too. Federal Bureau of Investigation states that USA, for example recorded white collar crimes amounting $300 billion every year

White-collar crime is relatively a new idea. It has been present in courtyards for quite a long time but the idea may still be ambiguous for some. Lawyers and law practitioners continue their dispute regarding the grounds and scope for white-collar crimes. It has many aspects that are viable for scrutiny and further interpretation to clear some of its gray areas.

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Calabresi, M. & Saporito, B. (2012). The street fighter. Time, 179(6), 22-27. Web.

Champion, D. (2011). White-collar crimes and organizational offending: An integral approach. International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology, 1(3), 34-47. Web.

Healy, P. & Ramanna, K. (2013). When the crowd fights corruption. Harvard Business Review, 91(1), 122-128. Web.

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