Innocent Stockholders and Consumers Expected to Pay Fines for Felonies Committed by Corporate Officers

That should have been the headline rather than: "5 Big Banks Expected to Plead Guilty to Felony Charges." Five of the world's biggest banks are reportedly expected to pay fines of billions of dollars for anti-trust violations for rigging the price of foreign currencies. Those who perpetrated the felonies will remain free, employed, rich and probably promoted. The fines, in effect, might be paid by the shareholders (many of whom probably did not even own the stock at the time of the wrongdoing) and the consumers to whom the fines will be passed on. Is this ever going to stop?

In an earlier post on the same subject, I borrowed from the NRA and stated: Corporations don't commit crimes; people commit crimes. The "punishment" of corporations rather than those actually guilty of the crimes only feeds the perception that the criminal justice system is rigged for the rich. Our prisons are over brimming with poor, mostly black, uneducated persons who committed crimes of far less magnitude. And what makes the practice worse is the fact that the fines serve to punish innocent people. It takes a while for the justice system to catch up so that many of those persons who now suffer from the fines may have invested long after the wrongdoing occurred, and what is not absorbed by shareholders is frequently imposed upon consumers.

Rather than putting their feet up on the desk and celebrating, the guilty executives should be cooling their heels in a prison cell. One need only look at the string of huge corporate fines that have been exacted over the years to conclude how they have failed to deter further criminal activity. Fines for criminal conduct are viewed by corporate executives as the cost of doing business, and the public cost is the loss of respect for the criminal justice system.