White collar and corporate crime are "the most all-pervasive, serious and costly crime problems in America today," says Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who estimates the annual loss to the public resulting from such crime at $200 billion a year.
In remarks prepared for delivery today at opening hearings of the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, Conyers cites a just completed, two-year study of the 582 largest publicly held U.S. corporations that reveals those companies were the targets in 1,553 federal and criminal cases during 1975 and 1976.
The report, supervised by University of Wisconsin professor Marshall B. Clinard, shows the cases led to 1,365 enforcement actions -- administrative, civil or criminal -- taken against the companies.
Clinard is recommending, as a result of his study, that substantial funds be appropriated through the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to support research on corporate and white collar crime.
In his remarks, Conyers notes, "LEAA has spent less than 5 percent of its funds on programs and projects related to white-collar and corporate crime [despite the fact that those crimes] are the most all-pervasive, serious and costly crime problems in America today."
"Rarely," Clinard's report notes, "is a convicted executive actually imprisoned; if he is it is only for a period of a few months. More frequently he is put on probation, sometimes to perform community service."
Clinard found that in less than one percent of all enforcement actions was a corporate officer criminally prosecuted for failure to carry out his legal responsibilities to the corporation.
Clinard recommends that more research be done in areas involving violations of environmental, product safety, occupational safety and health, food and drugs and equal opportunity violations.
He called existing corporate crime research from the Department of Justice "largely inadequate... (and) valueless."
"This lack of data so hampers enforcement that one would wish for something on corporations even roughly equivalent to the Uniform Crime Reports on ordinary crimes," he said.