An eye for an eye?

The punishment of white collar crime (i.e. non-violent crime committed in a professional environment for financial gain) has vexed the legal justice system for years.  The Biblical solution of “an eye for an eye” suggests that a financial penalty would be most suitable, but few people are happy with this – not least because white collar criminals are fairly canny about squirrelling away their loot and claiming to have little to repay.  Custodial sentences are used for different, often overlapping, purposes (among them, punishment, deterrence, and removal of the threat from society) and are generally thought to be appropriate in cases of serious white collar crime.  The length of the sentence is another matter.

The debate has been brewing again in the US, as in this article and this one.  The basic premise seems to be that stealing someone’s money, albeit in a non-violent way, still robs them of their future security and their trust in their fellow man.  Moreover, white collar crime (rather than, say, street robbery, which has always been harshly punished) tends to take more of someone’s money – their entire life savings, rather than whatever they have in their wallet that day.

Guernseymen and others are on tenterhooks at the moment, waiting for the sentencing of Paul Ludden on 6 July.  Mr Ludden, an ex-banker, has pleaded guilty to money laundering.  Previous sentences for laundering in Guernsey have been light, but the word on the street is that the recession has reduced people’s tolerance for those who enrich themselves at the expense of others.  We shall see.

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3 Responses to An eye for an eye?

  1. ottomummy says:

    My husband must have been the most blundering white collar crim in the world. I agree with you Susan, at the moment the public cry for longer, sterner sentences for white collar criminals, but coming from the other side, I would have to say that white collar criminals have often (and I’m not talking professional money launderers) much further to fall. Unfortunately, no distinction can be made for big time plotting criminals and idiots who see a way out of a financial problem without thinking of the consequences of their actions. By the way, my husband loves your blog and thinks certain executives of a certain bank should be visiting him on a permanent basis.

  2. Hello Otto’s Mummy
    Thank you so much for commenting – I think you will have something in common with another regular commenter (as I hope you will become), Claire, whose ex-husband was also (and indeed, we think, still is) a money launderer. As you say, there should perhaps be more of a distinction between career criminals and one-time “idiots”, as you put it. I have spent the morning so far reading your blog (http://ottomummy.wordpress.com/), and it was very illuminating. Welcome.
    Best wishes from Susan

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