Corporations facing criminal prosecution could face reduced penalties if they meet standards for tackling white-collar crime at their companies, say U.S. Sentencing Commission proposals reported by the Wall Street Journal. Companies would be eligible for credit if they have compliance programs designed to combat white collar crime. A compliance officer must have access to the board of directors and be responsible for detecting criminal activity. The firm must quickly report the misconduct to authorities.
The proposal would reduce fines and penalties even if company officers were involved in the criminal activity. Changing how corporations are handled in criminal cases is one of the commission’s priorities. Critics argue that some prosecutions punish shareholders twice: first through money lost on the fraud, and then through a criminal penalty. Susan Hackett of the Association of Corporate Counsel, commended the proposal.