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International White-Collar Crime Essay

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Updated: Mar 8th, 2022

If one accepts the hoary concept of white-collar crime as comprising all non-violent offenses, then it must be conceded that the ambit of international white-collar crime in the present era remains as broad as ever. Mail fraud, for instance, can still be perpetrated by one person. By definition, however, bribery and corruption committed by transnational or multinational businesses can involve officials in their home nations and countries where they hope to gain access or already do business.

The requirement for global networks is more characteristic of intellectual property violations, money laundering, drugs, espionage, art theft, and white slavery. These crimes always involve cooperating syndicates and international networks in both the countries of origin and destination chiefly because the desired commodity must be transported from a region of surplus to one of scarcity.

On reflection, therefore, it is the persistence of human greed and avarice that underlies all white-collar crime.

Technology has merely changed the speed, security, and medium of communication. Globalization and the harmonization of the European Community, two logical outcomes of the belief in free markets and value theory Adam Smith espoused in The Wealth of Nations, has also eased of movement of humans, goods, and money across borders.

By themselves, networks are neither new nor special. Informal and transient networks arise and persist both domestically and across national borders in response to common interests, ideologies, or economic self-interest. Recall how an ‘underground railroad’ of sympathetic Americans, North, and South, succored escaping slaves to where they could enjoy freeman status. Or the Poles, Dutch, and Frenchmen who hid Jews from the Gestapo during World War II. By sheer necessity, counterpart networks had to be created in-country, in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, etc. through which Jews needed to pass on the way to freedom.

The great advances made by even the developing countries in modernizing their telecommunications networks means that even the still-impoverished nations of the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Asia have become transit points for money-laundering generally and the type associated with illegal drugs in particular. In this case, networks of ‘conspirators’ and conduit banks are needed to circumvent banking and money-laundering laws in either the producing- or consuming nation.

At the same time, the broadening of telephone infrastructure and Internet penetration has enabled wily individuals to perpetrate ‘wire’ fraud by the relatively simple expedient of bulk email.

Automated programs (‘bots’) can troll the Worldwide Web to harvest email addresses from readily-accessible Webmail operators and public records. This has made sending news of fictitious sweepstakes winnings or the notorious chance to get a share of the inheritance due to an executed despot’s family (the Nigerian scam) virtually cost-free and worldwide in scope. Greed, after all, knows no boundaries. In the end, only the ringleaders of overseas fraud syndicates attain the financial gain that is the hallmark of all white-collar crime.

By definition, all corporate crime (e.g. the Madoff resurrection of the hoary Ponzi scheme) is also white-collar crime because financial institutions and trusted companies are uniquely positioned to commit computer crime, wire or mail fraud, insider trading, embezzlement, bribery of regulators, and customs, and forgery. In the case of the Madoff scandal, an essential element was a fictitious bank in the Bahamas. Locally, the Serious Fraud Office has therefore gone on record as giving equal emphasis to prosecution and consumer education campaigns (Bowers, 2008).

On the Continent, white-collar criminals can move operations across borders to escape prosecution since legislative systems differ. Thus, networks maintain components of their money-laundering, currency and trade goods counterfeiting, and even white slavery operations wherever laws are more lenient. The EC has yet to harmonize laws and continues to play catch-up, with the establishment of the European Judiciary Network in 1998, Eurojust in 2003, and a greater ambit for Europol (EUROPA, n.d.).

References

Bowers, S. (2008). White-collar crime: SFO boss plans to cut back on prosecutions and investigations. The Guardian, Thursday.

EUROPA (n.d.). Chasing white collar crime across the European Union single market. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "International White-Collar Crime." March 8, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/international-white-collar-crime/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'International White-Collar Crime'. 8 March.

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