I presented this paper at the International Conference on Financial Crime at Wadham College, Oxford University in April 2015. It is adapted from my 2014 UCL MSc Economic Policy Dissertation.
In cases of corporate crime, US prosecutors can lodge charges against the corporation, its managers, or both. However, the emergence of systemically important firms, most notably in the financial sector, constrains prosecutors. This paper develops a new microeconomic model of corporate criminal liability and shows how the Too Big To Jail problem reduces the deterrence effect of a crime control policy relying primarily on large corporate fines. Further, this paper shows how corporate criminal liability may not incentivize a Too Big To Jail firm to invest in internal controls and may even attempt to subsidize employees’ criminal activity. In the presence of Too Big To Jail firms, prosecutors should shift resources toward prosecutions of individual managers, so they bear a substantial personal risk from dealing dishonestly.