Sunday, September 30, 2012
Making Sure 'The Buck Stops Here': Barring Executives for Corporate Violations, by Peter J. Henning, Wayne State University Law School, was recently posted on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
There have been persistent complaints about managerial accountability since the advent of the financial crisis in 2008, especially the lack of criminal prosecutions of senior executives. In contrast, there is widespread criticism of “overcriminalization” and the use of criminal punishments to accomplish what are viewed as regulatory goals, such as corporate compliance. So while there is frustration at the lack of prosecutions, there are complaints that there are too many prosecutions. The criminal law is a poor means to engage in oversight of corporate governance, especially of senior managers who are largely insulated from day-to-day decision-making that often triggers violations. In this article, I offer a modest means to police management of public companies and large investment firms by enhancing the authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission to seek the removal of executives when the company has engage in persistent or serious misconduct, even if the individuals were not directly implicated in a violation. This authority already exists in a limited form in certain industries, and a wider application of it could be a way to address concerns about managerial accountability for corporate criminal conduct.