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Coercive Investigation of Corporate Crime: What Investigators Say


Eugene Schofield-Georgeson

This study investigates the use of coercive investigation powers in the context of corporate crime, based on a series of interviews with former Australian Securities and Investments Commission (‘ASIC’) enforcement officials and corporate lawyers. It argues that ASIC’s powers are well equipped to investigate corporate crime, but that ASIC rarely exercises these powers. In this respect, the article draws similar conclusions to the recent Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, but delves further, revealing how coercive powers are used and why they are seldom exercised in corporate criminal investigations. In accounting for this institutional failure, this study implicates a neoliberal agenda of deregulation and austerity that has permitted the regulator to be ‘captured’ by wealthy and powerful regulatees. The analysis is informed by a critical regulation approach to corporate crime that explains corporate or ‘white-collar’ crime and its enforcement through a sociological lens: as a result of unequal social relationships, primarily that of social class, that create disparities in legal and political power.

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(2020) 43(4) UNSWLJ 1405: