Did you happen to read this story?
“HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — A Chinese court has handed a death sentence to Li Peiying, a former chairman of Capital Airports Holding Co., for bribery and embezzlement of more than 100 million yuan ($14.6 million), according to a state media report. Li was given the sentence by the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in Shandong province in eastern China, after he was found guilty of seeking or accepting bribes for 26.61 million yuan while he was in office from 1995 to 2003, Xinhua reported. Li also misappropriated 82.5 million yuan from 2000 to 2003, according to the court, the report added.”
China routinely deals with those found guilty of corruption in this manner.
Not in America
The U.S. justice system would never sentence someone found guilty of such crimes to capital punishment, nor do I believe it should.
What I do believe is that our criminal justice system should enact broader legislation to deal realistically and more stringently with those convicted of acts of corruption.
Tougher sentencing guidelines would send a serious message that white collar crime can’t be absolved by a perpetrator’s wealth, connections or celebrity. Larger financial penalties would make some corporations think twice about concealing acts of corruption that are detrimental to their own customers.
The legislation should also use all legal means to investigate and recover money taken from victims of corruption. It would give longer prison sentences to those found guilty of such crimes and make victim restitution a lifetime obligation.
I’d also propose that a small percentage of recovered funds and financial pentalties be used to hire, train and support more white collar crime prosecutors and investigators. This could easily amount to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars a year that could be used to pay for the hiring, training and support of government employees whose jobs would be to investigate corruption and recover stolen and defrauded assets.
The small percentage of recovered funds could also be used to cut into the spiraling backlog of corruption cases awaiting trial. For example, the New York Law Journal noted that in December 2008, when Siemens settled with the DOJ and SEC for a range of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations occurring worldwide. The settlement included a $450 million criminal fine and $350 million in disgorgement of profits. Siemens’ extensive cooperation with the authorities, however, reduced the potentially $1 billion-plus penalty it might have faced otherwise.
As a journalist, who has reported on dozens of corruption cases, I’ve seen how these illegal acts jeapordize the lives of victims, many who may never recover from the financial and emotional losses inflicted upon them.
I’ve also seen those convicted of fraud and corruption serve prison time and be released to live financially comfortable lifestyles. Sometimes, they were charged but never convicted, or pleaded to far lesser charges because they or their companies had the resources, financial, political and legal, to outlast prosecutors and investigators who didn’t have the means or political backing to carry through prosecutions.
Would tougher enforcement, prosecution and asset recovery send a message making perpetrators and companies think twice before breaking the law? Perhaps not. It could lessen the impact such crimes have on their victims. It could send a message to corporations who may be tempted to suppress illegal acts by their employees. It would also move more rapidly to recover assets that might otherwise change hands so many times they would never be salvageable.