Individual responsibility for corporate malfeasance

Just recently in China, two people have been sentenced to death and another sentenced to life imprisonment, all in connection with the tainting of milk products with melamine. If you are interested, you can read more about it here.

It reminded me of a comment I posted in June 2007, entitled How to end corruption. At that time another Chinese man had been sentenced to death for accepting bribes to fast track the approval of new pharmaceutical drugs.

For too long, people have been able to hide behind the corporation and get away with ‘murder’. They pollute the earth, form cartels, abuse employees, and endanger the public but when they are caught, the company pays a fine (often a small amount compared to the additional profits they made) and the individuals who made the decisions get off scott free. In fact they are in demand because of the ‘good job’ they did in making the company more profitable.

This is completely unacceptable and is partly to blame for the rampant corporate malfeasance with which the world has to contend. If more people were sentenced to death for their involvment in corporate policies, this might change.

Interestingly, the law in South Africa is changing to make directors of companies individually responsible for the damage caused by the companies which they direct. This is a good thing; For too long corporations have passed the costs of their malfeasance onto us, the taxpayers. Companies manufacturing or selling GM crops wanted to insert a clause in the new Consumer Protection Bill which would have indemnified them of any costs if at some point in the future, GM food is found to be a problem to human health or the environment. Luckily, that clause was not included. Read more about that in my other post here.

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1 Response

  1. Dax says:

    On the topic of corporate malfeasance, it seems that corporations get away with murder (literally) all the time. It’s nice to see that things may be changing, Shell is being sued for its involvement in the murder of activists in Nigeria:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/apr/07/shell-trial-saro-wiwa-nigeria