Business crime, also referred to as white-collar crime, is a type of crime committed by corporations or government professionals for the purpose of financial gain. It is nonviolent in nature; however, it is punishable by fines, restitution or imprisonment, depending on its severity and the applicable laws.

Business crime is often linked to corporate crime; nevertheless, there is an important distinction: while they can both take place in a business/corporate environment, the business crime is committed solely for the benefit of the individual, while corporate crime is committed for the benefit of the company as a whole.

National corporate crime cases involve those companies that negotiate preferential agreements with the authorities in the jurisdiction where they conduct their activities. White-collar crime can also take place across several jurisdictions and, in this case, the legal implications of cross-border business crimes become more complex.

Types of business crime

Business crime cases can involve a number of financially motivated crimes and wrongful acts, among which:

- bribery;

- corruption;

- fraud;

- investment fraud;

- money laundering;

- insider trading;

- embezzlement;

- identity theft and forgery;

- embezzlement;

- copyright infringement, cybercrime;

- schemes, including Ponzi schemes.

Fraud is considered a deliberate deception performed for the gain of the individual, whose purpose is to deprive another party of his or her legal rights. It can be considered a civil crime or a criminal offence (when the defendant is prosecuted and faces imprisonment). Contractual fraud is included in this category and it can, in some cases, involve some level of forgery or impersonation, all for the purpose of gaining monetary advantages from the unsuspecting victim. Fraud includes a broad range of financial crimes, such as credit card fraud, mortgage fraud, medical or bank fraud, insurance fraud. Like many other types of financial crimes, it may be carried out by an individual, by corporations or by organized crime groups. The targeted victims can be individuals or corporations.

Money laundering is another type of business crime with a high occurrence rate in the international business world. It involves conversing the profits of a type of business crime into legitimate assets. Countries worldwide are trying to combat this practice through a series of anti-money-laundering laws. Some of these laws impose stricter requirements for financial institutions.  In the United Kingdom, money laundering and terrorist financing is governed by four primary acts and the Money Laundering Regulation. In the European Union, the Anti-Money Laundering Directive contains updated and strengthened requirements and has aligned some of its provisions with those in other countries, like the United States.

Bribery can take many forms in the business world and companies or company directors may use it as a means of securing the activities of the company or for gaining unlawful advantages. Financial executives who are willing to accept monetary advantages are subject to prosecution for corruption. Bribery and trading in influence are just two examples of corruption that can occur in white-collar environments.

Embezzlement is another type of financial fraud that can take place in business and corporate settings. It is the act of withholding assets that have been entrusted to be used for specific purposes. The embezzler steals the funds from the owner often following a lengthy process of having gained trust for handling those assets in the first place. Examples include the embezzlement of funds from investment funds or those from trust funds. It can also happen between individuals who are related or share the funds, for example between spouses who hold a joint account.

Business crime can take many forms and it may include more than one of the types of crimes briefly described above.

Protection against business crime

Victims of fraud, money laundering or embezzlement can request the help provided by UK lawyers. Individuals and corporations are advised to work with a team of lawyers in all cases involving business crime defence. The expertise of a criminal defence lawyer is valuable in business crime cases for the purpose of building a solid criminal case and for understanding the prosecution stages in different jurisdictions.

Individuals who are accused of having committed a business crime or those who need protection against the possible white-collar crimes can work with a team of defence solicitors. This means that they can address the civil, the criminal and the regulatory aspects and work diligently for defence against business crime.

A thorough knowledge of the local regulatory regime is important in all business crime cases. We advise you to seek legal representation in all cases involving financial crime.