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white-collar crime, 2008 recession, Illinois criminal defense attorney In the wake of the 2008 economic recession, many politicians began to speak out against the seemingly unjust laws that allowed for the white-collar criminals who perpetuated the crash to walk free. Banks themselves were deemed “too big to fail,” meaning that the executives who manufactured the crash through unsavory business practices that left many American families bankrupt never faced retribution for their crimes. In the vast majority of cases, corporations were slapped with legal fines—most of which registered minutely, if at all, on corporate profit and loss statements—but most individuals behind the actions were never even questioned in court. In large part, this is because the unsavory behavior was not technically illegal, and no legal structure is currently in place to aggressively pursue the individuals who act on behalf of corporations. This could be changing.

In mid-September, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it was issuing new guidelines to pursue white-collar criminals, in which they personally—and not only their company—would face retribution. The Justice Department said in a memo that these new laws were in direct response to criticism that the Obama administration had not done enough in the wake of the 2008 recession to pursue punishment for the individuals responsible.

Furthermore, the new guidelines do not allow for corporate executives to pass the buck. The law does not allow for low-level employees to take the blame for a corporation accused of criminal wrongdoing. The Justice Department asserts that, even when a corporation offers a ‘fall-man,’ the company itself—and its high level executives—will also be held accountable.

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