18 September 2019

US corporate crime yields $100 billion

Report on bipartisan corporate crime-fighting by US states has yielded over $100 billion in company payouts, with bankers topping the list.


A new compilation of lawsuits filed by the attorneys general of the 50 states and the District of Columbia finds that since the beginning of 2000 there have been 644 in which attorney generals from different states successfully cooperated on cases involving allegations of corporate misconduct.

Corporate crime

These investigations, which usually resulted in civil settlements in which the defendants did not admit guilt, often brought together attorney generals with divergent partisan affiliations. The total penalties paid by companies was $105.9 billion. These findings, based on an examination of 20 years of announcements by state AGs, are contained in ‘Bipartisan Corporate Crime Fighting by the States,’ a report published today by the corporate research project of Good Jobs First. “The current attorney general cases against the tech sector and drug companies are the latest in a long series of efforts in which states cross political lines to address corporate crime," said Good Jobs First research director Philip Mattera, who co-authored the report and led the data collection, which was conducted for the latest expansion of the corporate research project's violation tracker database. In at least 260 multistate cases, a majority of the states signed on as plaintiffs. In 172 of those, 40 or more states participated, yielding $20 billion in penalties.  State AGs are split about evenly between Democrats and Republicans, meaning that cases with large numbers of state participants are necessarily bipartisan.

Bankers top list

Topping the list ate some of the biggest names in banking. The parent company with the most cumulative penalties from multistate attoney cases is Bank of America, with $26 billion in settlements over issues such as mortgage abuses and the sale of toxic securities. It is followed by UBS ($11 billion), Citigroup ($8 billion), JPMorgan Chase ($6 billion) and BP ($4.9 billion). In 118 multistate cases, corporations paid penalties of $100 million or more; in 19 of these the amount exceeded $1 billion. The industries with the most penalties were banking and pharmaceuticals. Consumer protection and price-fixing cases were the most numerous kinds of multistate lawsuits, but investor protection and mortgage abuse lawsuits against big banks generated the greatest monetary penalties. In 243 multistate cases, the US Justice Department or another federal agency was also involved. The tentative Purdue Pharma settlement and other pending cases could add billions more to the penalty totals. The report is available here.

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