No Jail: Buy the Out-of-Jail Free Card

Corporate America has gotten a free pass: No prosecutions; just buy the Out-of-Jail Free card. Today’s article in the New York Times says it all: “In Justice Shift, Corporate Deals Replace Trials.” Such mighty giants as American Express, Merrill Lynch, Bank of New York, Monsanto et al merely have to pay a fine–which I am sure is often less than the yearly bonus of the CEO–and to agree to be watched.

The agreements were once rare, but their use has skyrocketed in the current administration, with 35 deals last year alone by the Justice Department, lawyers who follow the trend said. Banks, financial service companies and auditors have frequently entered into such agreements…

Already, according to Neil Powerinflatable air tumble track, “who leads the bureau’s economics crime unit,” the FBI

has opened17 inquiries into accusations of corporate fraud in connection with the subprime scandal…and that number is sure to grow.

At a Congressional hearing last month, Mr. Ashcroft defended the agreements, saying that they avoided “destroying entire corporations” through criminal indictments. “Prosecutors understand that a corporate indictment can be a corporate death sentence,” he said. “A deferred prosecution can avoid the catastrophic collateral consequences and costs that are associated with corporate conviction.”