CJCCJ/Volume 64.4 (2022)
European White-Collar Crime: Exploring the Nature of European Realities
Nicholas Lord, Éva Inzelt, Wim Huisman, and Rita Faria (Eds.)
UK: Bristol University Press. 2022. 330 p.
This is not a simple task. In the book European white-collar crime: Exploring the Nature of European Realities, Lord et al. offer insight into various aspects of white-collar and corporate crime in Europe. It informs the reader about the phenomenon from different theoretical perspectives and the way in which it is embedded in the region, its countries, and its institutions. This focus is based on the notion that the origin of white-collar and corporate crime concepts lies in European criminology, and that these are often contested and ambiguous. In addition, Lord et al. emphasize the fluidity of the meaning of ‘Europe’ with its cultural and geographical diversity. Despite this, the authors rightfully point out that citizens are confronted with different corporate and white-collar crimes, causing financial, physical, and environmental damage, and undermining public trust in economic and political institutions. This justifies the relevance of this book, an opportune moment to publish, and also considering significant national, European and global public policy developments to address this type of crime.
The book consists of contributions from scholars from inside and outside Europe to ensure a holistic view on the topic. It is divided into five parts.
The first part includes various chapters focusing on the European Union (EU) as a unit of analysis, providing an umbrella overview of white-collar and corporate crime in the region. Jeroen Maesschalck looks at EU approaches to preventing corporate and occupational crime (chapter 2), followed by Sunčana Roksandić who looks at EU internal and external security (chapter 3). Nicolas Lord, Karin van Wingerde and Michael Levi conclude Part I, who discuss corruption and comparative analyses across Europe (chapter 4). All three chapters in Part I set the scene for future research on white-collar and corporate crime. While triggering the professional interest of social scientists, a wider audience, interested into the specifics of corporate and white-collar crime might very well be better served by the chapters in the following parts.
The second part focuses on financial crimes and illicit financial flows, a phenomenon that exceeds national borders and requires a multi-national response. Sarah Wilson presents a case study of criminal responses to market abuse (chapter 5). She explores the importance of identifying ‘Europeanness’ in understanding white-collar crime. She does this by referring to European policies related to unlawful behaviours termed ‘market abuse’. Wilson stresses that European discourse is committed to using criminal responses to unacceptable behaviours. Katie Benson looks at anti-money laundering (AML) and the legal profession in Europe (chapter 6). Also, here, the ‘Europeanness’ is considered, asking whether there is a European nature to the EU’s AML framework according to those working on the national level. Karin van Wingerde and Anna Merz complement this by discussing responses to ML in Europe (chapter 7). Their chapter paints a glooming picture of how AML cases against banks differ between countries. The authors argue for mindfulness on the harmful effects of an aggressive approach which can undermine the legitimacy of the global AML regime and undermine willingness of banks to take on more responsibility to fight money-laundering. The chapters in this part provide not only food for thought for academics, but also for decision-makers as they provide practical examples of corporate and white-collar crime on the EU level. Part II triggers readers to further explore the case studies in the next part of the book.
Particularly, because the third part of the book narrows down on specific cases of white-collar and corporate crime. Ekaterina Gladkova writes about food production harms in the European context (chapter 8). Gladkova identifies paths for future research on white-collar crime related to food production governance and how mostly EU economic and regulatory contexts protect the interests of powerful meat production processes. Anna Markovska and Iryna Soldatenko shed light on white-collar crime in Ukraine (chapter 9). They analyze the concept of politically driven white-collar crime. While at first sight, this seems to be mainly affecting the country itself, the authors do bring to the attention that ambiguous legislation exposes a vulnerability in industries that also effect neighbouring regions, such as the EU. The example is given that an estimate of 40 per cent of timber exported to the EU from Ukraine was harvested or traded illegally. Jon Davies in the next chapter discusses labour exploitation and posted workers in the construction industry (chapter 10). He exposes a sensitive problem against one of the EU’s most significant achievements, the free movement of people. Davies concludes his reflection with the question of how far a one-size-fits-all EU policy approach will be a trend in the future and, if so, how it can position itself among pros and cons of addressing this at the EU level. Clarissa Meerts looks at public-private relations in the investigation of internal financial crime in the Netherlands (chapter 11). Part III is concluded by Éva Inzelt and Tamás Bezsenyi, who present a Hungarian case on state negligence and direct political interest (chapter 12). The chapters provide the readers with interesting and hands-on perspectives on corporate and white-collar crime in European countries, some of which are under close socio-political scrutiny. Part III provides a good balance between sectors as well as different geographical regions affected by it in Europe.
The book’s fourth part compiles chapters on white-collar crime responses in Europe. Judith van Erp and Tess van der Linden talk about the strategic lawsuits against those speaking up against corporate power (chapter 13). They illustrate cases in which NGOs, journalists and academics are sued for criticism towards corporations and the ‘chilling effect’ this has on those expressing concerns. Joe McGrath and Deidre Healy provide a comparative analysis of white-collar crime research in Ireland and the United States (chapter 14). By doing so, they show that globalization also erases borders between EU and non-EU countries but that understanding the phenomena of corporate crime based on official data is difficult due to lack of comparability. Liz Campbell concludes part IV with a chapter on settlement with corporations in Europe (chapter 15). She shows that increasingly European jurisdictions permit Deferred Prosecution Agreements which suspend or avoid criminal prosecution. All three chapter show the complexity of responding to corporate and white-collar crime, partially due to the cross-border nature of the problem, but also due to the nature of the corporation.
Finally, the fifth part of Lord et al.’s book zooms out and provides observations from outside Europe. More specifically, Melissa Rorie looks at European white-collar crime from the United States’ perspective (chapter 16). She systematically analyzes the literature comparing European and North American white-collar and corporate crime research. It shows how European studies are recently overrepresented in major criminological journals and that researchers use various methods and theories to guide research. At the same time, Rorie raises the concern that the focus on quantitative research risks failure to use qualitative methods in explaining the topic. Diego Zysman-Quirós provides perspectives from the global south (chapter 17), giving a unique view of the book’s content. Fiona Haines discusses lessons learnt from Europe (chapter 18) and reminds us about the pervasive nature of corporate and white-collar crime in the region, a testimony to the chapters included in the book. Most importantly, Haines sums up the book’s main outcome, which shows a significant contribution of European literature to the debates surrounding the topic and the way in which it is embedded in Europe, its countries, and institutions.
Overall, the book European white-collar crime: Exploring the Nature of European Realities by Lord et al. meets the reader’s expectations by laying out theoretical perspectives on white-collar and corporate crime in Europe. As such, it primarily serves scholars studying the phenomena within Europe and beyond and could serve as a basis for more research on the ‘Europeanness’ of corporate and organized crime. Readers from different geographical locations and focusing on different types of crime can choose and pick from the chapters in the book. Practitioners and decision-makers tackling corporate and white-collar crime might benefit from less theoretical perspectives but can use the more hands-on case study chapters for further research.
ECORYS SECURITY & JUSTICE