What is a White-Collar Crime?
The term white-collar has become synonymous with 21st-century lingo and is especially popular among people looking to carve a space among the upper echelons of society. While a large portion of the Indian diaspora vies for much-coveted ‘white-collar’ jobs, they are unaware of this term’s meaning. Ironically, the term white-collar has a dark side- It was coined in 1939 by Sociologist Edwin Sutherland and is associated with more than just top berths in the bureaucracy and among the crème-de-la-crème of society. ‘White-Collar’ is also associated with crimes of a financial and non-violent nature. White-Collar Crimes are usually committed by people from a financially sound background and enviable social status, such as businessmen, bureaucrats, venture capitalists, celebrities, etc. As per Investopedia, ‘white-collar crimes have the power to enrich their perpetrators financially.’ Some common white-collar crimes include
- Bank Fraud
- Bankruptcy Fraud
- Credit Card Fraud
- Money Laundering
- Tax Evasion
- Insurance Fraud
- Insider Trading
A serious white-collar crime may warrant help from white-collar crime lawyers from top-notch law firms in Chandigarh. In the words of ace American lawyer Mr. Paul D. Petrus Jr, “For serious white-collar offenses, you need a serious defense”. A lawyer can make or break a case, and anyone accused of white-collar offenses needs an advocate or a reputed Law firm like, Lex Solutions, who can make sense of the complications of their case while giving them personalized representation.
It is essential to look at some famous white-collar crime cases in India to understand the severity of white-collar crimes and the importance of financial lawyers.
Also Read: What is White-collar crime?
Sukesh Chandrasekhar Fraud
Conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar made headlines for his ostentatiously expensive lifestyle, thanks to the serial con gigs he undertook. A school dropout, Sukesh voiced different government officials, including incumbent home minister Amit Shah, to swindle millions out of unsuspecting parties. His name was also associated with Bollywood stars Jacqueline Fernandes and Nora Fatehi, who he showered with expensive cars, luxury bags and even premium racehorses!
In recent news, Sukesh admittedly helped AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran secure a favourable position with the election commission. The Delhi Police Crime Branch first arrested Sukesh and Dhinakaran in 2017 in the election commission bribery case, and the probe is still underway. Reportedly, Sukesh has conned at least 200 crore rupees out of several unsuspecting victims while lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail- This includes Aditi Singh, wife of Fortis healthcare promoter Shivinder Singh who was also in jail over money laundering charges. Easily, Sukesh is one of the many scions of white-collar crimes in India.
The Satyam scandal came to light most dramatically and is easily one of the biggest accounting frauds in this country. Satyam Computers’ B Ramalingam Raju confessed to cooking his books in a testimonial published in the Times of India in 2009. As per Lego desk, the 14000-crore scam contributed to the crippling recession of 2009. SEBI cracked down on Raju and his accomplices, holding them accountable for financial fraud, insider trading and other major financial scams. As per a Lego Desk report, SEBI ordered the accused to dish out 3000 crore rupees in 45 days and debarred them from accessing security markets for 14 years.
Saradha Chit Fund Case
Hundreds from the lower-income bracket died by suicide after this scam came to light. Saradha Chit fund was a Ponzi scheme that circulated as a chit fund in Bengal- thus earning the nickname ‘Bonzi’. As per a Trade Brains report, Mastermind Sudipto Sen lured rural investors into this scheme by offering sky-high returns and adding a sprinkle of religion through ‘Saradha’- Sarada Devi was the wife of one of Bengal’s most revered saints, Ramakrishna Paramahansa.
The group collected a whopping 300 billion rupees from a million investors before collapsing. Moreover, the group was endorsed on top platforms by some of the film fraternity’s most credulous actors. Sen used the money to fund regional films, buy local football teams, and several TV news channels.
Sen paid hefty sums to political heavyweights to stifle the voices of affected investors. Saradha continued to create shell companies to distract SBI from its investigation- Over 200 companies were created in this process. Several actions were taken against Sen and his associates- for instance, SEBI barred them from the securities market till all refunds were made.
After confessing his crimes to the CBI, Sen fled, post which a series of FIRs were filed against him.CM Mamata Banerjee created a 70-million-dollar relief fund for affected low-income depositors and an SIT to probe the matter continuously. As of 2021, and as per Trade Brains, Sen has 98 cases pending against him and has already spent over seven years in jail.
Harshad Mehta Scam
The Harshad Mehta Scam is the most prominent out of all given white-collar crime examples. ‘Scam 1992’ has immortalized the life and times of Bombay’s most prominent businessman and stockbroker, Harshad Mehta. Mehta was a big name in the trading circles of Mumbai and was known to manipulate stock prices, causing a massive rise in share prices. As per Lego Desk, Mehta earned slightly more than 5000 crore rupees through his manipulation tactics.
Renowned financial journalist Sucheta Dalal finally exposed the scam through her stellar investigative work. However, Mehta’s act was more immoral than illegal, as he took advantage of existing systemic loopholes. After this scam came to light, SEBI famously changed market rules and regulations. As per Lego Desk, Mehta’s tactics caused panic selling in the market, which in turn caused the market to lose a whopping $0.1 million each day.
These were some of the top case studies from the world of white-collar crimes. They give deep insight into what are white-collar crimes and how they function.