What is white collar crime?
White collar crime is a colloquial term which typically refers to non-violent crimes committed against corporate or government entities for financial gain. These crimes are referred to as “white collar” because they are often committed by well-off individuals, or companies with access and influence in corporate spheres. White collar crime includes:
- Fraud (including financial fraud, mortgage fraud, and corporate fraud).
- Insider Trading.
- Market manipulation.
- Domestic and foreign bribery.
- Money Laundering.
- Tax fraud and tax evasion.
- Share sale fraud (securities fraud).
- Corporate regulatory offences.
“Corporate crime” and “cartel conduct” are terms often used synonymously with white collar crime, but can be classified as sub-categories of this type of crime.
Corporate crime refers to crimes committed by or on behalf of corporations, for the benefit of that corporation. There is substantial overlap between white collar crime and corporate crime; however corporate crime might also refer to:
- False advertising.
- Non-payment of worker entitlements.
- Causing environmental harm.
- Cartel conduct.
A “cartel” occurs when businesses agree to act together instead of competing with each other. The agreement is designed to increase the profits of cartel members. Cartels are prohibited under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Under this Act, businesses and individuals participating in cartels may be committing both civil and criminal offences.
Cartel conduct may include:
- Price fixing: when competitors agree on the price of a product.
- Sharing markets: when competitors agree to divide or allocate customers and markets.
- Rigging bids: where suppliers agree among themselves who will win and at what price.
- Output restrictions: Controlling the amount of goods and services available to buyers.
Learn more about cartel conduct.
Key law enforcement and regulatory bodies
The State Police or the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will typically be involved in the investigation of white collar and corporate crime offences. Other specialised agencies include the Australian Tax Office (ATO), the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Commonwealth DPP (CDPP), the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
The role of ASIC
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) regulates many aspects of Australia’s corporate, market and financial sectors, exercising its powers under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth) in investigating allegations of white collar crime.
ASIC exercises its investigative powers to prevent and deter unlawful conduct, and in some instances to recover money.
Learn more about ASIC investigations.
Complex international white collar crime investigations
Complex white collar crime investigations are becoming increasingly international. Such investigations often raise issues concerning jurisdiction, the applicability of national and international laws, and the legal rights of those being investigated. It is therefore important to obtain expert legal advice as early as possible.
Nyman Gibson Miralis has been involved in some of the most significant and high-profile criminal litigation relating to cross-border corporate crime in Australia. We provide strategic advice relating to both domestic and international investigations, including responding to regulators, law enforcement and prosecutors.
We have expert knowledge of the substantive laws under which all key law enforcement and regulatory bodies operate, and the practice and procedure of investigations and prosecutions.
We are widely recognised as experts in transnational white collar crimes such as money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and corruption, and have acted and advised in investigations involving the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Cambodia, Cyprus, Russia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Europe, where there has been an Australian connection.
The world is witnessing times of increased legislative and policy reform in the areas of corporate crime and global investigations. Phillip Gibson and Dennis Miralis outline some of the key considerations in the Australian chapter of The Law Review’s International Investigations Review.