Corporate crimes and fraud fall within the remit of a number of law enforcement and
government agencies. State and Federal Police, ASIC, the ATO and the ACCC may get
involved, depending on the nature of the accusation. While most cases of white-collar crime
that reach the public consciousness have to do with embezzlement or tax fraud, there are
many other categories, such as corrupting commission or rewards and obtaining benefit by
fraud. Company directors should make themselves familiar with their obligations under the
Corporations Act 2001 in order to avoid any unintentional breach.
Every case related to companies and fraud is different and depends on the nature of the
business, and the way the business is managed – usually from a financial point of view. The
nature of the accusation also has a significant impact on the case. For example, if accused of
Obtaining a benefit by Fraud, and the accused is alleged to be director, it must be proven
– The accused was an officer of an organization
– The accused made or published a statement
– The making of the statement was dishonest
– The statement was knowingly false or may be false
– The making or publishing of the statement was intended to deceive members or creditors
of the organization about its affairs.
– The accused obtained a benefit
While this level of complexity provides protections for companies and individuals who are
falsely accused, it also makes the defence of white-collar crime a highly specialised and
technical discipline. Many cases, due to the amount of information required which needs to
be accessed from what is often many thousands of pages of data, can take a considerable
amount of time to conclude.
If you have been accused of a white-collar crime, you should obviously seek legal advice
immediately. This is doubly important if law enforcement and government agencies are not
yet involved in the process. Misunderstandings and unintentional breaches can be rectified
through mediation, without the need to burden the courts. Having legal counsel in place,
who can assist both parties in understanding the relevant legislation, and the legal
implications of additional action can aid in amicably and gracefully concluding matters.
Whether a matter is deemed to be one of professional impropriety, or something more
serious can only be determined by referencing the relevant legislation. To talk to us about
your concerns, or if you have been accused of a crime, call or email us directly.