Federal prosecutions of white-collar crimes have reached an “all-time” low this year, according to the Transactional Records Clearing House (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
As of January 2020, the number of white-collar offenders prosecuted on federal charges had dropped eight percent from the previous year, continuing a slide that began five years ago.
“If prosecutors continue at the same pace for the remainder of FY 2020, they are projected to fall to 5,175—almost half the level of their Obama-era peak,” TRAC said
In January, just 359 defendants were prosecuted—for the most part individuals, rather than firms—representing an “all-time low since tracking began during the Reagan Administration,” TRAC added.
In FY 2010 and FY 2011, annual prosecutions numbered over 10,000.
Critics have long assailed the government for concentrating its white-collar-crime efforts on individuals rather than large corporations and business organizations. Only 1,300 business entities have been hauled into court for white-collar offenses compared with 124,402 individual defendants since 2004—amounting to roughly one out of every 100 cases.
But the drop in prosecutions for individuals suggests a further softening of strategy, economist Catherine Rampell wrote recently in The Washington Post.
“The slide in prosecutions began before President Trump took office,” Rampell wrote. “But the numbers are especially low this year, perhaps in part because his fixation with other kinds of crimes (chiefly, immigration-related ones) has crowded out resources for other kinds of investigations and prosecutions.”
TRAC obtained its figures following successful litigation against the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act.
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March 4, 2020 at 08:04AM