Key Takeaway

The main differences between white collar and corporate crime are that corporate crime is usually committed by companies or their agents against the public and is generally carried out for the benefit of the company. In contrast, white-collar crime is generally committed against companies and is usually carried out for personal benefit. Corporate crime is a type of white-collar crime in Australia which annually costs Australia in the billions.

Corporate Crimes vs White Collar Crime Australia

Is corporate crime the same as white-collar crime? White-collar crime is generally committed by people against companies or government body’s for purposes of financial gain or profit. This type of crime is generally committed by people of relatively high social status.

White-collar crime examples include fraud, regulatory offences, tax fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, embezzlement and insider trading offences. White collar crime costs Australia billions per year.

Corporate crime is a type of white-collar crime. Specifically, corporate crime is considered the type of crime which occurs in the course of an occupation in the context of crimes committed by companies or their agents against members of public, environment, creditors, corporate competitors or investors for the benefit of the company in contrast to the individual’s benefit alone.

Corporate crime examples include tax fraud, companies and security offences, occupational health and safety, environmental offences, consumer affairs, false advertising, restrictive trade practices, food standards offences, prudential regulations, economic offences against employees in the form of failing to pay workers entitlements to name a just a few.

White Collar Crime Definition

What is white-collar crime? White-collar crime meaning includes various types of non-violent crimes involving financial gain or causing financial loss to another person or entity. This type of crime is typically committed by individuals against corporations or government entities.

Corporate Crime Definition

What exactly is corporate crime? Corporate crime is a subcategory of white-collar crime in Australia. This type of crime is typically committed in the context of one’s occupation by corporations or the agents of those corporations. The victims are typically members of the public.

With the many dimensions of corporate crime as a type of white-collar crime, there are significant consequences for committing these types of crimes in Australia.

For example, prudential regulations offences involve breaches of certain standards required for banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions to ensure that the money of deposit holders and policy holders are secure and ultimately for the stability of the financial system entirely.

Breaches can result in the millions to billions of dollars of loss.

The regulations require compliance with liquidity rules, periodic documentation, auditing requirements, and restrictions on investments to protect the economy and people.

An example case of Bishopsgate Insurance in 1983 had gone into liquidation. It had a deficit of more than $18 million. Millions were invested, and later lost, in the gold futures market at that time. The principal of that company absconded Australia and was never seen again.

Another example of corporate crime is in the context of economic offences against employees. These types of crimes are committed by corporations against employees in the form of breaching their employees awards, not paying wages to name just a few. Every year, thousands of these types of offences are detected.

Can a Company be Liable for Criminal Offences?

Corporations can be just as liable to criminal prosecution as individuals can in Australia. This can occur if a company commits a crime, in the sense that it’s employee or officer of agent commits the ‘actus reus’ (physical part of the offence) in addition to the ‘mens rea’ (mental element of the offence) i.e. that the company authorised or allowed the offence to take place. Part 2.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Commonwealth) reflects the same.

How serious is white collar crime and corporate crime in Australia?

White-collar crime costs billions of dollars to the economy, which is why it also attracts heavy criminal penalties of imprisonment and/or fines in Australia. These types of non-violent crimes have a cost in the sense of depriving critical resources away from vulnerable people and communities, ruins peoples hard earned savings, increases premiums for insurance and other costs of living, and can contribute to organised crimes and terrorism in Australia.

It is normally enforced by the State police or the AFP (Australian Federal Police) who investigate white-collar and corporate crimes. It is also not uncommon for other bodies to enforce and prosecute these type of crimes, including the ATO (Australian Taxation Office), ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption), ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Commission), ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), CDPP (Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions), and AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre).

Do people go to jail for white collar crimes? People certainly can go to jail for committing white-collar crimes, depending on how much money is involved, level of sophistication, extent of premeditation and planning involved and motivation for committing it.

What is the Difference Between White-collar and Blue Collar Crime?

Blue-collar crime is typically known as the typical crimes we hear of committed by individuals of the lower socio-economic class, such as blue-collar workers. Examples of blue-collar crimes includes drug offences, assaults, murder, break and enters, and sexual assault.  In contrast, white-collar crime typically involves individuals from a higher socio-economic class who commit non-violent types of crimes involving money. Examples of these include bribery, tax evasion, and Centrelink offences. White-collar crime refers to financially-motivated, non-violent crime and covers a broad range of criminal behaviour.

Blue-collar crimes are also generally easy to detect and less complex than white-collar crimes. This is because, generally, white-collar crimes are more complex, premeditated and better planned out crimes.

White Collar Crime Statistics Australia

How much does corporate crime and white collar crime cost in Australia? You will be surprised to find out just how common white collar crime in Australia is. 57% of those Australian organisations surveyed had experienced white collar crime over the preceding two years, with over a third of organisations suffering a loss of more than $1 million, according to PwS’s 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey.

Further, there’s been more than $1.2 billion in fraud cases against the Commonwealth that have been reported over the period of 2010 to 2014 reflecting nearly 400,000 incidents. The real cost of white collar crime and fraud is expected to be much more given these figures don’t include undetected, unreported or unquantified incidents.

The A-G’s Department has noted that the AFP had 114 white-collar crime mattes with an approximate total value of $1.6 billion as at 30 June 2015. The Australian Federal Police say that serious and organised crime like this costs Australia’s economy $36 billion per year. They further state that $6.3 billion from the $36 billion is organised white collar crime, according to the Attorney-General’s Department, Submission 52.

National White Collar Crime Centre

The National White Collar Crime Centre is a support system for purposes of preventing, investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes. It works to support state and local law enforcement efforts for this very purpose.

In summary, it serves as a means to link criminal justice agencies across jurisdictional borders. It tried to do this in a multitude of ways, including research, training and investigative support services. There are over 6,000 agency members in America and its territories in addition to 15 in other countries around the world.

Is White Collar Crime Criminal or Civil?

White collar crimes are criminal in nature which attract criminal penalties of imprisonment and/or big fines. Civil laws can be engaged in the sense of freezing assets of people who are charged for large scale white-collar crimes. This is an application the prosecuting authority may make in the Supreme Court for a freezing order. If granted, it prohibits anyone from moving the funds contained in the alleged offender’s bank account. It can also extend to caveats on properties to prevent the accused person from doing anything to their properties i.e. preventing the property from being sold.

Famous White-Collar Crime and Corporate Crime Cases Australia

What are some examples of white-collar crimes of the powerful?

What are the top 3 to 5 white collar crimes?

The term ‘white-collar’ crime encompasses varied offences related to financial advantage including fraud, bribery, tax evasion, embezzlement, insider trading and money laundering, among others.

The offences are non-violent, and involve motives of obtaining money or property, or avoiding the payment of money.

Referring such species of offences as ‘white collar’ found it inception within the term being used to refer to crimes of usually ‘well-off’ individuals of high social status.

However, the term has evolved beyond this, and is now used to refer generally to financially-motivated, non-violent crimes.

Whilst many may be tempted to think of the ‘crooks’ on Wall Street, when thinking of white-collar crimes, many egregious financial crimes have been committed in Australia.

Here are five famous white-collar crimes committed in Australia:

1. Christopher Skase

Christopher Skase was an Australian businessman who owned over five resorts as well as interests in the Seven television network and the Brisbane Bears football club. Skase was known for his incredible displays of wealth, with it rumoured that he had his private jet fly from Port Douglas to Melbourne to merely pick up a dress for his wife. However, his demise led to him becoming one of the country’s most wanted fugitives.

Skase was wanted on more than 30 criminal charges relating to the $775-million collapse of his media and entertainment holdings. Being millions of dollars in personal debt himself, Skase fled to Spain in 1991 and eluded attempts of extradition. Skase eventually died of stomach cancer on the Spanish island of Majorca, at age 52. 

2. Frank De Stefano

Frank De Stefano was the mayor of Geelong, Victoria for 10 years, and even received the Order of Australia for his services to migrant communities. However, by 2003, De Stefano was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment for 12 counts of theft totalling $8.6 million.

Whilst working as an accountant, De Stefano embezzled money from his own clients. They included his friends and associates who had known him for decades. He lost $7 million of clients’ stolen funds through gambling, including $6.6 million at the casino.

One of his clients, Mr Tom Papic, entrusted De Stefano with a compensation payment he had received, after being left a quadriplegic. Mr Papic’s spine was mistakenly injected with chemotherapy drugs while being treated for a nose tumour at the Geelong Hospital. De Stefano lost the $5 million damages pay-out gambling at Crown Casino.

At the time of his sentence, it was suggested that whilst De Stefano initially embezzled funds to avoid bankruptcy, he eventually turned into a pathological gambler.

3. Eddie Obeid

Eddie Obeid is infamously known as one of the nation’s most corrupt politicians. The former Labor minister was found guilty in 2021, over his role in a rigged tender for a coal exploration licence. His co-conspirators in the scheme include his son, Moses, and former NSW minerals minister Ian Macdonald. The Obeids were alleged to have used confidential information provided to them by the minister to gain a 25 percent stake in the winning bidder ‘Cascade Coal’. The estimated payout of the venture amounted to $60 million.

However, this never eventuated, due to the matter being exposed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Obeid famously remarked: “I have spent more money than you have made in your lifetime,” during questioning at ICAC regarding the tender. Obeid was sentenced to three years and ten months imprisonment, however, is currently on bail pending an appeal of his conviction.

Obeid was previously jailed in December 2016 for five years, after being found guilty of lobbying a public servant to secure lease renewals for two lucrative Circular Quay businesses in 2008. He failed to reveal his family’s financial interests in the outlets. He was released on parole for this offence in 2019.

4. Plutus Payroll

Plutus Payroll provided payroll services to various companies and defrauded the Commonwealth of more than $105 million over three years. The scheme involved the company accepting money from legitimate clients to process payroll on their behalf. As part of their obligations in processing payroll, the company was to remit pay as you go withholding tax payments to the ATO on behalf of their clients.

However, only part of these tax obligations was paid, with the remaining money siphoned off by the syndicate members and channelled through a complex series of companies and trusts for their own personal gain.

Mr Simon Anquetil was the principal conspirator in the syndicate and was sentenced to seven years and six months in jail for his role. Mr Anquetil pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth and dealing with the proceeds of crime worth $1,000,000 or more. He had $15.8 million in assets confiscated by the Australian Federal Police. This included six properties, three vehicles, multiple bank and investment accounts, shareholdings, as well as several luxury items including watches.

5. Melissa Caddick

Sydney businesswoman Melissa Caddick was alleged to have stolen more than $23 million from 72 clients, including her own friends. Ms Caddick was under investigation for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme, using millions provided by investors for her own gain. She is reported to have spent the money on her $6 million Dover Heights mansion, designer cars, overseas trips, jewellery, and clothing.

However, only days after the Australian Federal Police raided her home as part of an ASIC investigation, Caddick disappeared. After months, campers discovered a running shoe filled with human remains which washed up on a South Coast beach. The remains were later confirmed to be of Ms Caddick.

Following her presumed death, 38 criminal charges against Caddick were dropped, which included falsely claiming she had a financial services licence and other fraud-related charges.

Corporate Lawyer vs White Collar Crime Lawyer

A corporate lawyer is a legal practitioner who specialises in the practice of corporations law. This includes, advising businesses of their legal rights, responsibilities and duties. Corporations law is also commonly referred to as commercial law. These types of lawyers are experts in business and companies.

White collar crime lawyer definition: A white collar crime lawyer is a criminal lawyer who specialises in the area of white collar crime law. This type of law is concerned with non-violent crimes committed by companies against members of the public (corporate crime) or crimes committed by individuals against companies (white-collar crime).

White collar crime lawyers are experts in fraud law, corporate and white collar crime cases. They typically provide representation in court against prosecutions brought by either the federal police or state police or other government agencies including ASIC. White collar crime lawyers also provide highly specialised legal advice on the law, penalties, and defences to white collar crime charges. This role extends to getting involved before charges are filed against their clients by negotiating with the entity involved who are investigating criminal prosecution. Many white collar criminal charges can be avoided in the preliminary investigation phase with a good white collar crime lawyer.

It can save clients significant legal fees and stresses down the track by getting a white collar crime lawyer early in any fraud/white collar crime investigation, compared to what clients would otherwise end up paying later down the track if a white collar crime lawyer is engaged later on.

Corporate crime lawyers and white collar crime lawyers are one and the same. These types of lawyers are well versed in the law, and the court practices and procedures involved in white collar crime prosecutions. They are experienced and very good at communicating, even negotiating, with the prosecuting authorised that can be involved in these types of cases.

Types of corporate crime and white-collar crimes that white collar crime lawyers deal with include:

  • Money laundering
  • Misappropriation of assets and funds
  • Bankruptcy crime
  • Environmental crime
  • Tax fraud and tax evasion
  • Insider trading
  • Cyber fraud
  • Bribery
  • Identity crime
  • Bankruptcy crime

This article is a guide and should not be taken as legal advice. For legal advice, our white collar crime lawyers Sydney team provide a free first consult. 

How Much do Corporate Lawyers and White Collar Crime Lawyers Cost in Australia?

Table of Corporate and white collar crime lawyers cost Australia

Corporate and White Collar Crime Lawyer Cost Australia
Experience Level Per Hour Cost
Partner or Principal lawyer $600 to $800 + GST
Senior Associate or Senior Lawyer $500 to $600 + GST
Associate or Lawyer (1-2 years’ experience) $300 to $400 + GST
Junior or Graduate Lawyer $200 to $300 + GST

The above table outlines an estimated figure of how much these lawyers cost per hour in Australia. As you can see it is based on levels of experience. One important factor that people often miss is how passionate their chosen lawyer is in their chosen field of law? This can make a very big difference in quality of work performed and the stress levels of their clients. It directly impacts on the end result and the level of communication lawyers have with their clients.

How Much Do Corporate Lawyers Make?

How much a corporate lawyer earns depends on their level of experience and how well established they are in the market. The below are figures taken from Talent.com on the average corporate lawyer salary in Australia.

Corporate lawyers salary in Australia 2022 range on an average salary of $122,989 per year which converts to about $64.07 per day. Graduate or junior corporate lawyers salary generally starts at about $112,500 per year. The more senior or experienced corporate lawyers salary is $158,000 per year.

How much do white collar crime lawyers make?

In contrast, the starting pay for graduate or junior white collar crime lawyers can start from $50,000 to $60,000 per year depending on their people skills and any prior experience in the profession. As experience is gained, the more experienced white collar crime lawyers including partners or principal lawyers specialising in white collar crime can go up to $150,000 to $200,000 per year.

How to Become a Corporate Lawyer in Australia

Here’s a short summary of how to become a corporate lawyer in Australia:

  1. Complete a law degree either through university with an L.L.B Bachelors or through the Legal Practitioners Admission Board with a Juris Doctor. You must graduate before moving to the next phase.
  2. Through the college of law, you must complete the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice degree. This encompasses the mandatory practical legal training component (PLT) before you can apply to be admitted as a lawyer in New South Wales with a practicing certificate.

You must then formally be sworn in as a lawyer by going through the admission ceremony conducted at and/or by the Supreme Court. Once sworn at this level, you are officially and lawfully permitted to begin practice as a lawyer. This includes the right to appear in court for clients and give legal advice to clients under the supervision of a principal lawyer in a law firm who holds an unrestricted practicing certificate.

Published on 31/03/2022

AUTHOR Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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