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Kill motorists - escape prosecution

One has to wonder.    Here is a multi-national corporation which has been out in the market-place knowingly selling faulty motor vehicles - attributable to at least 174 deaths  - and it, and any principal individuals involved, escape prosecution.     Well known consumer advocate, Ralph Nader explains...

"Yes, it’s official. General Motors engaged in criminal wrongdoing for long knowing about the lethal defect in its ignition switch that took at least 174 lives and counting, plus serious injuries. At least 1.6 million GM cars – Chevrolet Cobalt and other models – hid this danger to trusting drivers, according to the Center for Auto Safety ( Corporation executives who lie to or mislead the federal government violate Title 18 of the federal code, and risk criminal penalties.

"But, the long-mismanaged automaker was not required by the Justice Department to plead guilty at all. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney from New York, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not bring an indictment against either General Motors or known culpable officials in GM, including top GM lawyers and safety directors, who participated in the cover-up year after year, while lying to federal officials and not reporting these defects.

The Justice Department fined GM a modest $900 million, which the Wall Street Journal called a “lower-than-expected financial penalty.” The government also agreed to a notorious three year “deferred prosecution” deal, which corporate crime expert, Law Professor Rena Steinzor, called “a toothless way of approaching a very serious problem.” Three years of compliance, watched by a federal monitor and then the Justice Department dismisses the charges.

The “problem” is a fast maturing enforcement doctrine – under George W. Bush and Barack Obama – that can be called crimes without criminals. This turns criminal jurisprudence on its head. One standard for big corporations shielding their individual criminals with immunity. There is another standard for street criminals who can be imprisoned for many years for forging checks or burglarizing buildings without harm to humans.

At a press conference to announce the hoisting of this sweetheart deal, U.S. attorney Preet Bharara weakly excused the absence of indictments by asserting: “We apply the laws as we find them, not the way we wish they might be.” Former NHTSA Administraor Joan Claybrook asked Mr. Bharara whether he would urge Congress to meet his wishes. Mr. Bharara dodged the question. He argues that his prosecution was restricted because of “complex structures” in corporations. A multi-million dollar prosecution budget, with many subpoenas, interviews with GM officials and engineers should have penetrated the “corporate veil,” especially since Mr. Bharara waxed eloquent about how GM cooperated and opened itself up for inquiry.

Professor Steinzor, author of Why Not Jail?: Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction, rebutted, saying these excuses “are contradicted by their own creative and aggressive behavior in other cases,” involving some small, criminal companies. In one case, against a peanut company, DOJ got felony convictions and a former owner is facing a life sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines."

Meanwhile, VW are in the same "game" of selling faulty vehicles.


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