Cooking the books is an idiom referring to a variety of fraudulent activities used by companies to falsify financial information. Generally, the practice involves augmenting earnings or removing debt to improve financial standings.
The consequences for corporate misconduct and fraudulent misrepresentation are steep. Penalties range from federal charges and jail time to high dollar monetary sanctions and debarment.
Crimes of deceit
Deceptive financial practices and corporate misconduct charges often include both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Common charges are embezzlement, fraud, sanctions violations and bribery. These are federal charges, which carry longer prison sentences and higher penalties.
Charges generally lead ousting, although debarment is not unheard of. In addition to loss of current employment, debarment severely limits an individual’s ability to find other employment opportunities in the same field. Debarment effectively blacklists a person.
Culture breeds misconduct
White collar misbehavior is unique in that it is often triggered by the work environment. Workers gauge the environment for signals regarding ethical choices. Depending on the workplace, unethical behavior may seem harmless. Unlike other theft situations, victims are distant and faceless, removing visceral guilt. Regulatory agencies can still charge individuals even though the organizational culture may promote deriving income from ill-gotten gains.
Crimes of deceit result in financial gain with seemingly minimal consequences. However, the criminal penalties are significant. Those facing criminal charges have a right to a fair trial. An experienced criminal defense attorney will work to achieve the best result and protect the defendant’s rights.