Over the past few decades, businesses and individuals have been subjected to increased scrutiny by government and regulatory agencies. Over a seemingly typical course of operations, issues may arise that could potentially lead to fraud and abuse allegations. When auditors begin to arrive and investigate, it is best to have a white-collar defense team right by your side. Even if a company has not committed any wrongdoing, news of the investigation can lead to outside scrutiny, potentially causing tremendous obstacles. With an experienced white-collar defense team, a company or individual may be able to mitigate these issues, avoid additional problems, and ensure that any investigation runs as smoothly as possible.
What Are Common White Collar Crimes?
White-collar crime is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of nonviolent crimes generally committed in commercial settings for financial gains. A few examples of white-collar crimes are:
- Antitrust violations. Antitrust rules and regulations are set in place to protect competition within the marketplace. Examples of antitrust violations include price-fixing and bid-rigging.
- Bribery. Bribery occurs when there is corrupt solicitation, acceptance, or transfer of any item of value in exchange for a means of influencing the actions of an individual who holds a public or legal duty.
- Credit card fraud. The United States has the highest rate of credit card fraud out of any other country in the world. Credit card fraud takes place when there is unauthorized utilization of another’s credit card information.
- Insider trading. Insider trading happens when an individual uses nonpublic or confidential information to trade a company’s stocks or other securities.
- Insurance fraud. Insurance fraud occurs when a duplicitous act is performed to obtain improper payment from an insurer.
- Money laundering. Money laundering is a financial transaction scheme that aims to hide the identity, source, and destination of unlawfully obtained funds. One of the most common types of money laundering is tax evasion.
- Securities fraud. Securities fraud involves theft through market manipulation, theft from securities accounts, and wire fraud.
- Tax evasion. Tax evasion schemes are used as a means of avoiding tax payments. This typically takes place when an individual or company misrepresents their income to the Internal Revenue Service.
Are White Collar Crimes Criminal Or Civil?
The potential punishment for committing a white-collar crime is particularly harsh, as it can potentially involve both civil and criminal penalties. Although, the majority of white-collar crimes lead to civil lawsuits. These lawsuits can be brought by the federal government, state government, or the victims of the offense. In addition to civil cases, defendants may find themselves facing criminal charges. After the FBI, SEC, NASD, and other applicable authorities investigate, charges are brought by federal prosecutors against the business or individual. With the stakes high, having a white-collar criminal defense team may help a company or individual avoid hefty fines and extensive prison sentences. In fact, in many cases, regulatory bodies may choose to settle a white-collar case prematurely in an effort to avoid draining financial resources in prosecuting futile actions. This most commonly takes place in non-criminal white-collar proceedings.
Bottom line: While white-collar crimes can be both criminal and civil, the majority are civil, and many cases are settled outside of court.