Friday, November 3, 2006
For many years, the United States was considered a country that did not render draconian sentences in white collar cases. But court applications of the federal sentencing guidelines may present a new picture. Recently in the U.S. CEOs have faced sentences that may translate into life or close to life sentences. For example, we see Jeff Skilling receiving a 24+ year sentence and Bernie Ebbers' sentence coming in at 25 years.
In contrast, we see that former Daewoo CEO and founder just received a sentence of 8 1/2 years from the Seoul High Court. (see AP here) The sentence also includes a forfeiture of approx. 19 billion dollars.
Like so many recent cases in the U.S., this case involved alleged accounting fraud. But unlike so many cases in the U.S. where there are large dollar figures representing loss, the sentence here did not match the loss figures of the U.S.
The federal sentencing guidelines were enacted to promote uniformity. One question that no one seems to focus on is whether the uniformity should be limited to this country. In a transnational business world, if uniformity is an aim, then would it be more appropriate to consider like sentences in other countries.