Iowa Law Professor Mihailis Diamantis and Will Thomas of the Michigan Ross Business School recently asked readers:
Can you name ten corporate criminals?
Bernie Madoff, Martha Stewart and Jeff Skilling don’t count – they are individuals, not businesses.
How about just five? Three?
“It’s surprising the task should be so difficult. Corporate crime inflicts upwards of 20 times more economic damage each year than all street crime,” they write. “Brand-name corporations find themselves on the wrong side of the law for everything from accounting fraud to homicide to narcotics dealing. Yet many people, including most law students and even some law professors, don’t even know that corporate criminal law exists.”
In a forthcoming paper titled Why Corporate Prosecutors Need Better Marketing Chops, Diamantis and Thomas argue that widespread ignorance about corporate crime and corporate criminals reflects a systemic problem for business law, as well as a missed opportunity.
“Corporate criminal enforcement needs a marketing makeover,” they write. “When prosecutors and agencies ignore basic marketing principles, they undermine the deterrent impact of the public, expressive act inherent in corporate criminal enforcement. These failures of communication undermine the most basic moral and preventive aspirations of corporate criminal law.”
“This is an unforced error that some creative thinking and attention to marketing basics could begin to remedy right now, without even requiring much additional expense.”
What should the government do?
“We think that by increasing the resources spent on marketing, the government can get significantly more bang for the buck than they are getting right now,” Thomas told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last month. “We’ve actually seen this sort of trend when it comes to governance and compliance.”
“Corporate criminal law has in principle been concerned with issues like internal governance for decades, but it’s really only been in the past let’s say 12 years or so that the Justice Department itself has started investing resources into better understanding and better advising about compliance.”
Read the full story at Corporate Crime Reporter.