Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti declared war on white-collar crime in the United States yesterday, saying that it "threatens the integrity of our public and private institutions."
Pouring out that white-collar crime costs the United States tens of billions of dollars a year, Civiletti said he has made it a national priority for the Justice Department to investigate and prosecuted white-collar crimes ranging from the bribery of public officials to the computer embezzlement of funds by banking officials. He said he has installed economic crime units in 18 U.S. attorneys' office a number he said will grow to 29 by 1982.
Civiletti released a 50-page report that he described as the "first comprehensive analysis of white-collar cirme" by the Justice Department.
The FBI ranked 15 white-collr crimes in priority order. The first was corruption of state and local officials, second was bank fraud and embezzlement, third corruption of union officials and fourth housing and mortgage loan frauds.
In fifth place, the FBI put the growing crime of theft and duplication of sound recordings and movies that are then sold on the black market without permission of the copyright owner.
"Thre is evidence," the report said, "that organized crime is becoming increasingly involved as a major supplier of counterfeit products."
At his news conference, Civiletti hinted that the Justice Department would make growing use of undercover operations like those that led to the Abscam indictments. In particlualr, Civiletti referred to the relatively new practice of videotaping the offering and taking of bribes in undercover operations.
"One thing we learned [in the Abscam operation] is that videotapes are quite important and quite convincing," Civilettie said. "We should have known long ago that a picture is worth 1,000 worlds."