The "perception" is that criminals with power, wealth, and connections aren't being punished, and that's because they aren't. After Enron our justice department lost whatever appetite it had for meaningful criminal prosecution of corporate execs, there's even a book about it:
People who get put away for white collar crimes are punished because they stole from someone wealthier or more powerful than them. Hardly anything is systematically being done about "white collar" crimes affecting ordinary disempowered people, which is why millions of workers in the U.S. experience wage theft each year.
My personal TL;DR from a couple of years ago if you don't have the time to read the book:
- It's very hard for prosecutors to secure a criminal conviction even in the most blatant cases of wrongdoing.
- Prosecutors care too much about their win rate to risk trials.
- Prosecutors have fallen into a trap where they're so dependent on the policy of offering generous non-prosecution or deferred-prosecution agreements if the company comes forward and volunteers evidence, they've become incapable of actually executing on a complex criminal investigation anymore.
- There's intense political pressure to not punish shareholders for management's misdeeds.
I have really enjoyed your books and all your articles over the years, especially about banking, corruption, and the financial crisis. i am curious if you have read the book 'The Chickenship Club) [https://www.amazon.com/Chickenshit-Club-Department-Prosecute...] and your thoughts on it?
Never going to happen. Especially in the current 'business friendly' administration. This  book does a great job at explaining why. I don't think we'll see a CEO behind bars for anything white-collar in our generation. Sadly. Judges and prosecutors are political animals too, you know.
The book The Chickenshit Club https://www.amazon.com/Chickenshit-Club-Department-Prosecute... by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist tells a more thorough and comprehensive, though infuriating and tragic, story.
The exception there swallows the rule. Prosecutors could have, and in previous financial crises did, prosecute top executives under the laws against, for example, wire fraud.
They didn't this time for reasons outlined in the excellent book: Chickenshit Club (https://www.amazon.com/Chickenshit-Club-Department-Prosecute...)
of course, if the crime is committed by a penny ante fraudster, then the DOJ is not afraid to put them in jail.
new book on this by Pro Publica reporter:
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