A white-collar crime, as defined by the American sociologist Edwin Sutherland, is ‘a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation’. This differs significantly from blue-collar crimes, which are perpetrated by people of lower socio-economic status. Since its origins in 1939 (the term was coined by Edwin Sutherland), white-collar crime has now grown to enormous proportions and includes corporate fraud, healthcare fraud, mortgage fraud, money laundering, and hedge fund fraud, among many others. The growth of technology has lent a huge fillip to the spurt in white-collar crime, which can cost the exchequer hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Many white-collar phrases, such as the Ponzi scheme, have become a part of the popular crime lexicon.
In White Collar Crimes X-Posed, Thakur Shailendra Nath has laid bare the whole gamut of this lucrative industry, which spans across all nations, rich and poor. As he writes in the introduction, ‘organised crime often victimise businesses through the use of extortion or theft and fraud activities. Some organised crime groups defraud national, state, or local governments by bid-rigging public projects, counterfeiting money, smuggling, bootlegging etc.’ These crime groups also resort to a range of illegal services, such as loan sharking, gambling, drug trafficking, gunrunning and human trafficking. Almost all these groups function in collusion with corrupt politicians and law enforcement officials, who turn a blind eye to their activities.
The book devotes considerable space to banking frauds, tax evasion cases, money laundering and IT frauds. A section of the book also deals with some popular criminal cases, such as the Scarlett Keeling case, the Nithari murders, the Shivani Bhatnagar affair and that of the actor Sanjay Dutt, allegedly accused of underworld links. The 26/11 Mumbai attack also gets a mention, since it involved major financial backing from its organisers.
The author is concerned with the increase in white-collar crime, but believes it is inevitable with the growth of technology and the advent of a consumerist society. He examines the symbiotic relationship between white-collar crime and big business, the politician-businessman nexus, and the means taken by governments to stem the rising tide of illegal big money transactions. He rues that in India, many of the tough laws to fight white-collar crime are rarely implemented, and exist mostly on paper. Though the government has begun drafting laws to track down the sources of foreign funds which fund terror attacks in India, much more needs to be done to make its borders safe so that its citizens can go about their lives with a feeling of safety and security.
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