A Modest Proposal

I hope Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski, Bernie Ebbers, and others of their ilk are reading this.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China executed four people, including employees of two of its Big Four state-owned banks, for fraud totaling $15 million, the state Xinhua news agency said Tuesday. The executions occurred in the midst a high-profile government campaign against financial crime. They followed a string of arrests in white-collar crime as China prepares to sell shares publicly in its big banks.

The story goes on to detail the method of execution: a gunshot to the back of the head. Now, if this is the punishment for $15 million in fraud, what kind of penalty would Kenneth Lay — who saw more than $1 billion worth of securities and wire fraud on his watch — be facing in China? It would clearly have to be a fate worse than death. Something really inhumane, like forcing him to watch Judge Judy or Homeboys from Outer Space for all eternity.

A CEO gets tens of millions of dollars each year to helm a company and claims all the glory when times are good. When the firm goes belly up, however, they are the first to claim they had no idea what was going on and bear no responsibility. Well, I know we don’t want to be more like China. But there are times when it’s awfully tempting. For example, when you think about the millions in taxpayer funds that are being spent to put these guys on trial.

So here’s a modest proposal: let’s take a page out of their playbook. Since our CEOs tend to favor outsourcing if it saves money, let’s outsource our high-dollar white collar criminal justice proceedings to China. Something tells me it might be more effective than Sarbanes-Oxley at curbing those annoying cases of multi-billion dollar fraud.

  1 comment for “A Modest Proposal

  1. jason
    September 20, 2004 at 4:28 pm

    I mentioned this story to someone in the finance dept. at work.

    They crapped their pants and got to work.

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