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Aug 16

Sins Of The Children: Punishing Businesses For Employees' Crimes

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

White-collar prosecutions of business organizations such as Arthur Andersen and the Milberg Weiss law firm have become more common. The federal indictment itself destroyed Arthur Andersen - an 89‑year‑old firm with annual worldwide revenues of $9.3 billion and 28,000 employees. Justice was served when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Andersen's subsequent conviction. But by then, it was far too late to piece the venerable accounting firm's fragments back together. 


Professor John Hasnas, author of Trapped: When Acting Ethically Is Against the Law, argues that the standard for assigning criminal responsibility to corporations is inappropriate. In short, American law took a wrong turn when it began to hold businesses vicariously liable for the crimes of their agents. To assert this in the post‑Enron, post-Worldcom environment will strike some as heresy. But just because business organizations are treated as persons for some legal purposes, is it right to do so for criminal punishment? Does it really make sense to prosecute a business for the alleged crimes of one or a few employees? 


Join us and our panel of white-collar criminal law experts as we consider whether and how to change the legal standards for vicarious criminal liability for business organizations.

More About the Speakers

John Hasnas, J.D., Ph.D., LL.M.
Associate Professor of Business, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

Brad Berenson
Partner, Sidley Austin LLP

Ron Tenpas
Associate Deputy Attorney General,
U.S. Department of Justice

Hosted By

Brian W. Walsh Brian W. Walsh

Senior Legal Research Fellow Read More