Eight billion dollars is a lot of money, but a small price to pay to stay out of jail. As the New York Times reports today, corporations are on track to pay as much as $8 billion in fraud settlements this year to the U.S. government. That includes military contractors, banks, and pharmaceutical companies who systematically defrauded American taxpayers. The $8 billion they own is double the amount paid out in settlements last year – and an all-time record high.
But the important story is, despite the multiple acts of blatant fraud by corporate America resulting in record settlements – almost never does an executive go to prison. Pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Merck and defense contractors like ATK Launch Systems admitted to stealing tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers, yet not one CEO is facing criminal charges. Of course, if you or I walked into a 7-11 and stole a two-dollar Slurpee, we’re going to jail. But in America’s two-tiered justice system – the corporate elite are untouchable.