How White Collar Crime Affects The System Criminology Essay

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How has and how is the "white collar crime" affecting the world's justice system?

White Collar crime is usually a crime that doesn't take a front seat in our minds when we talk about law and criminality. This is because of the lack of knowledge people have on this topic. So in this essay I am going to analyse white collar crime and try to see how it has effected and shaped our justice system.

What is white collar crime?

The legal definition for white collar crime is "a generic term for crimes involving commercial fraud, cheating consumers, swindles, insider trading on the stock market, embezzlement and other forms of dishonest business schemes" ( 22/05/2011). The term white collar crime comes from the "outdated common assumption" that business executives wear white shirts and ties.

Is White collar crime serious?

As mentioned before white collar crime isn't a crime known by many people. This is because many people do not deem that this crime is a serious crime. In Professor James Q. Wilsons book "Thinking About Crime" he dismisses the importance of white collar crime. He believes that "the first essence of real crime is the arousal of fear and the occurrence of injury, the second, "a rending asunder of the social contract", third, "the commission of acts that are not merely dangerous but more importantly immoral", and last, "the commission of acts that are clear violations of criminal statues" ( 22/05.2011 ). Professor Wilson believes that these 4 points separate white collar crime for "real crime".

However this is only one side of the story. On the other hand white collar crime is becoming a more popular and serious crime nowadays. This is because of crimes such as the Enron case which we will later analyse in this essay.

Local Perspectives

In Ethiopia white collar crime isn't a major crime. There haven't been many reported cases of white collar crime. Whether this is due to the fact that there aren't huge commercial firms in Ethiopia or whether the crimes have not been reported is arguable.

However in the definition of white collar crime we may be able to fit in corruption as a part of white collar crime. If this is possible then Ethiopia is a country full of "White collar crime". To say that corruption is a huge anchor on Ethiopia's development would not be an exaggeration.

From the bigger businesses to just traffic police corruption is everywhere In the country. Although Ethiopia may have higher crime rates for other types of crimes I personally believe that corruption is the biggest crime that affects Ethiopia. This is because there aren't strong enough laws to fight corruption in the country, hence making it a dangerous as well as irresolvable crime.

National Perspective

For this part of the analysis I chose to focus on South Africa as I found a lot of information on that country.

In South Africa the "perception exists" that not only that street crime are increasing but also white collar crime is increasing in the country. "Police in South Africa claim that in general, official crime statistics represent less than ten per cent of the incidence of actual crimes, with 51 per cent of all crimes not being reported at all." ( 24/05/11).

Fraud is a section of white collar crime and it is believed that "fraud is known to thrive in a social and business environment where low ethical standards prevail and moral flexibility prevails" ( 24/05/2011). Hence it can be argued that the motive and other factors connected to fraud can be linked back to South Africa's history.

This makes South Africa in danger of the increase of White collar crime which will have a negative impact on the country. Also South Africa does not have the resources and staff to fight and prosecute the felons after they commit the crime. The job cannot only be left for the police force as they themselves admit the "policing was never meant to be done by police alone". Therefore South Africa's hope in fighting the crime .

Global Perspective

When thinking about white collar crime internationally my mind wandered off to the United States of America. White collar crime has a huge impact in businesses and the quality of American life.

"The sudden and unexpected collapse of Enron Corp. was the first in a series of major corporate accounting scandals that has shaken confidence in corporate governance and the stock market". The Enron Firm was doing of the most innovative and fast growing firms in the United States before it declared bankruptcy in December 2001.

From the collapse thousands of workers and shareholders lost billions of dollars. There have been reports that tell us that the company was facing serious problems from a year before the company declared bankruptcy.

The reason for the bankruptcy and fall of the company was due to embezzlement and fraud in within the company.

The Enron case is an example taken from many other white collar crime cases done in the United States of America. This alone can show us the increasing issue of white collar crime in the United States of America and in the international world as a whole.

Also the effects that the breakdown of one firm can show us the unbreakable consequences white collar crime can have. A single crime can have a huge effect on a family as well as a business. The people that get let go from a firm have to find another job in order to provide for their family.

Can we prevent white collar crime?

One of the dangerous of white collar crime is that it is really hard to prevent these types of crimes. As seen from the examples given such as the Enron case it takes ages in order to actually charge the felons .Also many resources are needed and countries such as Ethiopia and South Africa do not have the resources to charge the criminals let alone to prevent the crimes.

However countries can still do something to put a stop to the crime. Although it may difficult countries can still take a step forward. This can start by enforcing laws and tightening the eye on this type of crimes. Although the lack of control and punishment for white collar crime may arise because countries don't have the resources it is also because these crimes are not taken seriously.

A single white collar crime can bring down a huge firm or can even break up a family. Therefore the first step in conquering and overcoming white collar crime is taking the crime more seriously. If this is done by governments then citizens of the country will be more aware and will take the crime more seriously.

After this is done we cannot set a particular law for all countries as countries are different. Countries such as Ethiopia cannot make laws that are the same to countries such as the UK; as they do not have the same power and resource. Hence we can only give a boundary line for all countries to follow.

I believe that countries need to make a stronger judicial board. Although this is easier said and done it is essential in fighting white collar crime. This is because cases take longer to solve because there are weak law protecting officials and they are corrupt in with themselves. Hence making them useless and anchors instead of law enforcers.

Although we may not be able to actually prevent white collar crime I believe fighting it and bringing the criminals to justice once the crimes are done is a start. So countries need not only to focus on how to prevent the crime but how to catch the criminals that commit the crime.


From the examples put forward in this we can see the seriousness and the massive effect white collar crime can have on a family, community and a country. Also stopping white collar crime is a massive task and it cannot be done at once.

In addition from the research I have done in this essay I can conclude that one of the biggest issues that we have a problem of white collar crime is the knowledge about the topic and the lack of seriousness given towards the topic. As Sara Paretsky said "The possibility of bringing white -collar criminals to justice is ever receding over the horizon" ( 24/05/2011). And if we do not tackle this problem now it will be too late.

Therefore as said many times in this essay white collar crime needs to be taken more seriously. We should have more laws that can help prevent as well as conquer white collar crime. This means that white collar crime should have a bigger and advanced effect on our world's judicial board as the effect it has now isn't good enough!

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