Tracking corporate crimes
When I need to keep up with the latest information sources, I can always count on ResearchBuzz‘s Tara Calishain , an expert on new and little-known online databases. And, thanks to Tara, I now have a great new resource to add to my due diligence investigations.
This one caught my eye because it’s difficult to uncover crimes committed by corporations. Court searching can be a shot in the dark for several reasons, including incomplete online records. Also, many cases are settled before getting to court, and – especially in the case of smaller firms – there’s not much news coverage.
Enter the Corporate Prosecution Registry, which tracks corporate fraud and misconduct. Compiled by professor Brandon L. Garrett and librarian Jon Ashley from the University of Virginia Law School, the Registry tracks “every federal organizational prosecution since 2001, as well as deferred and non-prosecution agreements with organizations since 1990.” The information in this database was gathered from public sources such as federal docket sheets, press releases, prosecutor’s offices, and FOIA requests.
There’s an advanced search, and the cases can be sorted in a number of ways. In addition to the case details, you’ll find original documents such as dockets and plea agreements. Find details about just one firm, or create lists of companies prosecuted for particular crimes.
What’s not included? The Registry only provides information about U.S. federal prosecutions, so no state-level or non-U.S. cases. It doesn’t include cases in which convictions were overturned on appeal, indictments were dismissed, or companies were acquitted. Finally, leniency agreements entered through the Antitrust Division’s leniency program are excluded, since these are kept confidential.
Combined with searching news and court records, the Corporate Prosecution Registry can be a valuable tool for company due diligence.