Complex and high stakes litigation
White collar crime is receiving increasing attention in Australia and there is now far greater support for whistle blowers. We note the following from the Attorney-General’s Department:
“According to PwC’s 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey, 57 per cent of surveyed Australian organisations had experienced white collar crime in the past two years, with more than a third of organisations losing more than $1 million.
There has also been over $1.2 billion in reported fraud against the Commonwealth from 2010–14 stemming from 391,831 incidents. The actual cost of fraud, however, is likely to be much greater as this figure does not include undetected, unquantified or unreported incidents.”
The long-standing cavalier approach to white collar crime is rapidly eroding and, around the world, governments and businesses are taking rigorous action. We note this article in the Harvard Business Review:
“White-collar crimes—such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery, and money laundering—have destroyed enormous amounts of shareholder value at companies like Alstom, Odebrecht, Petrobras, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, Telia, Teva Pharmaceutical, VimpelCom, and Volkswagen.
In aggregate, the losses add up to billions of dollars. The legal penalties companies incur can be substantial: Siemens was hit with $1.6 billion in fines, Odebrecht $3.5 billion, and Volkswagen about $20 billion.
And then there are the business costs: the time and energy that management must devote to cleaning up the mess and negotiating settlements rather than to beating rivals; the reputational damage; the impact on sales, profits, and stock price; declines in employee engagement and productivity; and increases in employee turnover.” Harvard Business Review, July-August 2019.
While this article refers to the White Collar Crime situation in the USA, the same issues and concerns apply in Australia. Indeed, concern about White Collar Crime has escalated and the Federal Government in January 2019 passed legislation that drastically increases penalties for this type of crime.
New maximum prison sentences of up to 15 years replace the old maximum penalty of a five years prison sentence for serious corporate offences such as breach of directors’ duties, dishonest conduct and providing false or misleading disclosures. In addition, the penalty for certain criminal offences rises from $210,000 to $9.45 million or three times the benefit gained, or loss avoided, or up to 10 per cent of annual turnover.
Penalties for civil breaches increase from $1 million to $10.5 million per breach.
The team at Roberts Gray Lawyers can assist with a range of White Collar Crime, both within Australia and internationally, including matters such as:
- Misappropriation of funds and/or assets
- Tax fraud
- Crimes associated with bankruptcy
- Money laundering
- Violations of environmental law
Protecting Whistle Blowers
The Roberts Gray Lawyers team can support and represent employees who have been victimised (e.g. wrongfully terminated, refused promotion, victimised or harassed, or given a position that constitutes a demotion) as a consequence of reporting illegal activities within a business or organisation.
Our team will deliver support, guidance and advice regarding the best actions to take. Roberts Gray Lawyers will provide a genuine case assessment and will support review of the core allegations and concerns. We are committed to protecting whistle blower rights.
Advice from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)
The following information is on the ASIC web site. If you need guidance or support, we suggest a free consultation with Roberts Gray Lawyers:
“Whistle blowers play an important role in identifying and calling out misconduct and harm to consumers and the community. To encourage whistle blowers to come forward with their concerns and protect them when they do, the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) gives certain people legal rights and protections as whistle blowers. …
We value the people from inside companies and organisations who report potential misconduct or breaches of the law. We appreciate that these whistle blowers can find themselves in difficult and stressful circumstances and may risk their careers or even their personal safety. We take the concerns whistle blowers raise with ASIC seriously.”