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FROM BOARDROOMS TO COURTROOMS: WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES IN AUSTRALIA

FROM BOARDROOMS TO COURTROOMS: WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES IN AUSTRALIA

What constitutes ‘white-collar crimes’ in Australia? From corporate fraud to cybercrime, understanding the types, trends, and legal consequences of white-collar offences is important in today's complex business environment.


What is White-Collar Crime?


White-collar crimes are financial-related criminal offenses committed mainly by professionals entrusted with running businesses and other corporations, occurring in both the private sector and government departments.


Common White-Collar Crimes - Defined


Fraud

Fraud is any crime aimed at financial gain through wrongful or deceptive means. This includes operating a Ponzi scheme, tax evasion, identity theft, hacking, and theft of cash. Penalties for these crimes include fines and jail terms, depending on the volume of money involved.


Corporate Crime

Involving immense amounts of money, corporate crimes are complex offenses that implicate companies, business entities, or individuals acting on behalf of a company. Corporate directors and other top officers are usually involved, and the crime often includes stealing from the company. Penalties may vary from fines to many years in prison based on the amount of money stolen and individual responsibility.


Bribery

A victimless white-collar crime, bribery, is sometimes challenging to prosecute due to the lack of lodged complaints. Both the giver and the receiver are guilty of a criminal offense if caught. Bribery includes paying for favours like influencing a tendering process with bribes ranging from money to positions or properties.


Additional white-collar crimes can include

  • Copyright infringement;

  • Identity theft;

  • Cybercrime;

  • Tax evasion; and

  • Money laundering.


The Government's Approach to White-Collar Crime


In recent years, Australia has intensified its fight against white-collar crimes. The 2018 Senate Inquiry recommendations led to the government strengthening laws against these offences. Crime investigating bodies like ASIC have been empowered to pursue harsher punishments for white-collar criminals.


The government, through a senate bill, increased penalties for white-collar crimes from late 2018. The bill also empowered the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to pursue harsher penalties against violators.


What Are the Legal Consequences?


White-collar crimes carry significant legal consequences in Queensland. Criminal charges may result in fines, imprisonment, or both, while regulatory bodies can impose civil penalties, including fines, suspension or barring from certain activities, restitution, even without criminal charges.


Asset forfeiture is another tool authorities use to deter and punish offenders, and professionals involved may face license revocation, tarnishing their reputation and hindering future career prospects.


Defending Against Fraud & White-Collar Criminal Charges


Facing serious charges requires a strategic defence. Common defences can include:


Consent:

Defending against fraud charges may involve proving that all parties involved explicitly agreed to the alleged actions, showcasing transactions or dealings conducted with informed approval.

 

Duress:

The defence of duress relies on demonstrating that the accused engaged in fraudulent activities under the threat of imminent harm or coercion, requiring evidence of credible threats or pressure.


Honest Claim of Right:

An honest claim of right defence asserts that the accused genuinely believed they had a legal entitlement to the property or funds, requiring the demonstration of a sincere belief in the legitimacy of their actions.


Reasonable Mistake:

The defence of reasonable mistake argues that the accused committed the alleged offenses unintentionally and in good faith due to a genuine error or misunderstanding, emphasizing the importance of evidence supporting the reasonableness of their actions. Legal professionals play a crucial role in developing these defences, ensuring a strategic approach, and navigating the complexities of fraud cases.


Seeking legal advice promptly is crucial to navigate potential defences to white-collar crimes in Queensland.


Contact Creevey Horrell Criminal Lawyers


Based in Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba, and Townsville.

Visit www.chcriminallawyers.com.au/contact-us to contact us today.


 

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