David Lazarus on Sending Corporate Criminals to Jail

The LA Times's David Lazurus says in this article that the large-sounding corporate criminal penalties — like recent ones against Glaxo for off-label drug promotion and against BP for conduct that led to the Gulf oil spill — aren't enough to deter and that some corporate criminals should spend time behind bars. Here's an excerpt:

If you're concerned about corporate crime, 2012 looked like a pretty successful year for the good guys.The Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen paid  $762 million in fines and penalties and pleaded guilty to a federal charge related to illegal marketing of its anemia drug Aranesp. Britain's GlaxoSmithKline and Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories
paid $3 billion and $1.5 billion in government penalties, respectively,
in connection with their off-label promotions of blockbuster drugs.
Glaxo's was the biggest drug company settlement in history. * * * To the companies, however, these big numbers are just chump change.
Typically they don't even represent repayment of ill-gotten gains — more
often merely the cost of doing business. And to the public, they're
insults piled atop the injuries caused by the firms' wrongdoing. "These fines are a carny act to keep the rubes happy," according to William K. Black,
who was a thrift regulator during the savings and loan crisis of the
1980s. "It's cynical — the art is to make the amount sound large but
make sure that it has no material effect." What might really get the attention of the CEOs and other top executives
of lawbreaking companies would be some time in the hoosegow. Does that
sound quaint? If so, it's because not a single high-ranking executive of
any of the companies mentioned above faced indictment or was even
forced to step down.

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