Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Motivates the White Collar Criminal? (1/7/14)

Peter Hemming recently had a good brief discussion on the issue of what motivates people to violate the law.  Peter J. Hemming, When Good People Do Bad Things (NYT DealBook 11/26/13), here.  He deals with the general genre of white collar crime cases.  I refer readers to that discussion because tax crimes are a subset of white collar crimes and the discussion is brief and good.

The discussion relates principally to insider trading.  But some of the discussion certainly resonates with tax crimes. Here is an excerpt:
Perhaps misconduct by some groups can be ascribed to the belief that so long as everyone else seems to be doing something, it cannot actually be wrong. Continuing investigations into global banks’ manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, as well as foreign currency exchange rates are replete with examples of traders exchanging information and boasting of their ability to artificially raise or lower a benchmark rate. These are not isolated instances, but part of a pattern of conduct over months and even years. So it cannot be chalked up to the heat of the moment. 
What is so puzzling about people who have led otherwise good lives is that they are unlikely to have engaged in the misconduct if it is presented to them in stark terms. Ask a Wall Street trader, for example, whether he or she would trade on material nonpublic information received from a corporate insider, and the answer from most would be “no” — at least if there was a reasonable chance of being caught.

1 comment:

  1. The case with both US-Switzerland and US-Russia is that in any type of reciprocity one side has much more to gain than the other. I suspect that there are many more US persons with Swiss accounts than Swiss with Us accounts (if for no other reason than the US population is much larger than the Swiss.) In the case of Russia I doubt that any American in his right mind would want a Russian account except for very limited reasons (residfence there, business there etc.)


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