What is the federal government’s role in regulating white collar crime?

The federal government closely monitors and regulates corporations through the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Businessmen in Charlotte, North Carolina, may wonder about the federal government's involvement in the enforcement of laws relating to corporations, and how that could affect them if they are not compliant. The truth is that there are many different government agencies that have a role to play. Although some may overlap, they do each serve their purposes with some level of specificity.

The Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission was set up specifically to create a fair marketplace and prevent monopolies. This agency is responsible for enforcing the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act, which are antitrust laws designed to promote competition among businesses and keep quality up and prices affordable for consumers.

Under the Clayton Act, corporations must not be discriminatory in their relations and activities with merchants. Also, any companies that wish to make large mergers or acquire other companies must first submit the plans to the government for permission to ensure that the results would not create a monopoly or hinder competition. The FTC Act set up the FTC, and is basically a backup to the Sherman Act, catching any unethical or harmful activities that are not directly addressed by the Sherman Act.

Violations of the Sherman Act typically include unreasonable trade restraints, particularly regarding issues such as conspiracies between corporations to rig bids or fix prices. These activities may include both civil and criminal penalties, including substantial fines and prison time.

The Department of Justice

The U.S. Attorney General serves as the head of the Department of Justice, and as the country's law firm, the agents, attorneys and investigators enforce laws such as the antitrust acts. Both corporations and individual executives may be prosecuted for criminal acts by this agency. Recently the Deputy Attorney General announced that more attention will be placed on the investigation of the people who make the decisions that lead to illegal behavior rather than the entities they direct.

The FBI

According to the FBI, white collar crime involves fraud, such as cheating, lying and stealing. This may seem like an oversimplification, but these behaviors are the essential nature of the illegal activities defined by the antitrust acts. The FBI's mission is to conduct investigations to discover those who are responsible so they can be prosecuted and brought to justice. Perpetrators may be corporations, executives or even government officials.

When a person or a corporation is under federal investigation for white collar crime, the results could include millions of dollars in fines and prison sentences for those who are found guilty. A criminal defense attorney in North Carolina may be able to provide representation to get through these complicated legal issues without devastating repercussions.