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- Vidhi Shah

"The practitioners of evil, the hoarders, the profiteers, the black marketeers, and speculators are the worst enemies of our society. They have to be dealt with sternly, however well placed important and influential they may be; if we acquiesce in wrongdoing, people will lose faith in us"

-Dr. Radhakrishnan

White-collar crimes are those which are linked with people of high stature and are distinct from traditional crimes in the sense that there is a principle element of breach of trust by carrying out unethical business practices cultivated by the motivation to gain financially. It simply means a deceitful act committed by an elite group of people. Getting skewed by their outer personality we mistake them as innocent people unknown of their true side. Elaborating on this point, it's thought-provoking how a 'type C suit' person ends up in a prison cell? The answer to this question can be found in the bad apple theory, poor self-control, lack of empathy, peer pressure, and the inability to take a decision with a clear head. However, speculating such types of behaviours, in general, is incorrect. The Supreme court of India has declared corporate criminal liability as 'Mens Rea' exemplifying the state of mind of directors and managers as intentional, further stressing the 'Alter Ego' principle of the company.

The number of white-collar crimes are soaring high day by day. And corruption is so deep-rooted in our society that bribing an official has become "a way of living". According to the changing dynamics of white-collar crimes in India, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has found a total of 6,533 cases of corruption over the last 10 years, of which 517 cases have been recorded over the last two years. Statistics showed a trading value of 4,000 crores using fake or duplicate PAN cards. With 999 cases registered, Maharashtra saw a dramatic increase in the number of online cases. The study also said that approximately 3.2 million people have lost their card details, which were stolen from Bank ATMs. In the light of such staggering numbers, it is safe to say that India is well within the grip of white-collar crimes.

After the Harshad Mehta Scam, Satyam Scam, Punjab national bank fraud, 2G Scam, etc people have lost trust in bank transactions, cripple our economy altogether, and further intensify inequality, poverty, and social division. Misuse of technology which includes sharing of confidential information for unauthorized use, overpayment to vendors or clients or granting loans without security, and even small offences like cheque bouncing and manipulation of accounts have become quite frequent.

With escalating numbers of money laundering cases, the true origin of money is tedious to locate and tax evasion is practised by every citizen however diligent he may be. Giving one another tips for investing in shares is unpretentious. Unable to contemplate the consequences of such crimes which not only tarnishes the company's goodwill as well as questions the reliability of our financial system.

There are varied laws established to counter white-collar criminals. As per sec 447 and 448 of the Companies Act, 2013 which provides punishment for fraud commission and penalizing the wrongdoer who deliberately or intentionally makes a false claim or omits some material fact in form of financial statements, reports, prospectus, or any other document. Reserve Bank of India has been empowered to deal with money laundering cases. Banks and financial companies are required to keep transaction records for a 10-year term. Cybercrimes which have received a great impetus in today's techno-savvy world, resulting in the establishment of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Section 43 and 44 of this Act provides punishment for the introduction of viruses or malicious programmers, unauthorised access and downloading files, unauthorised copying of an extract from any data, Damage to computer system or computer network, helping any person to facilitate unauthorised access to a computer, denial of access to an authorised person to a computer system. Keeping in view the infamous scams, the government has even established the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 depriving the property attached to people who flee outside India in order to escape their criminal liability.

It's appalling to see that people in such high professions commit such crimes which makes common people distrust the whole fraternity. There are various techniques equipped by investigative authorities like the CBI, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax (IT), Department of Vigilance, DFS of Ministry of Finance, SEBI, RBI, and IRDA which includes placing the employees of the organisation under constant watch, a special team should be set up in the company, wiretapping if permitted by law, implement and enforce stronger regulatory policies and be cognizant of the fact that transparency is crucial since if corruption is the disease the only pill to such fatality is transparency.

Vidhi Shah is a fourth year student at Pravin Gandhi College of Law, Mumbai.

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