‘It’s disturbing.’ U.S. Justice Department white-collar criminal prosecutions fall to their lowest level on record, study says


Only fewer white-collar criminals are being prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department compared to as it was some 30 years ago. This was disclosed in a new report from Syracuse University pegging Federal prosecutions of white-collar criminals 25% lower than it was before. The 5,702 white-collar prosecutions recorded last year are expected to fall to 5,175 this year if current levels of prosecutions persist, the study added. Records go back to 1986 during the Reagan administration when there were 7,843 white-collar prosecutions.

In comparison with over 1000 defendants charged monthly at the peaks of 2010 and 2011, only 359 were charged in January.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice raised questions about the data. “TRAC uses its methodologies in interpreting the data it receives, resulting in conclusions that we cannot verify,” said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr in a statement. “Data provided by TRAC routinely differs from data and statistics reflected in the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys’ published annual reports, DOJ’s main litigating division reports, U.S. Sentencing Commission data and U.S. Courts data,” he concluded. Benckowski said over $1billion was recovered incorporate U.S. criminal fines, penalties, restitution and forfeiture as part of resolutions that returned $3 billion globally.
A professor of law at Stanford University David Sklansky said that white-collar crime had traditionally been prosecuted by the federal government because the cases could be so complex. “When the U.S. Attorney’s offices file fewer of these cases, that slack is unlikely to be picked up by district attorneys or state prosecutors,” he said. He added that prosecutions of white-collar crime had been falling for about a decade. He reiterated that the fall in the white-collar prosecution is not just about Trump administration phenomenon as some criminologist attributed the drop in prosecutions to the fact that law-enforcement is looking elsewhere, particularly national security in the aftermath of 9/11, which can be of higher priority and require more complex and longer-term investigations.