From Enron to Wells Fargo: Expanded Violation Tracker Now Covers 18 Years of Corporate Crime & Misconduct

18/09/2017

Washington, DC, September 19, 2017—An expansion of Violation Tracker, the first public database of corporate crime and misconduct in the United States, now makes it possible to access details of cases ranging from the big business scandals of the early 2000s during the Bush administration through those of the Trump administration to date. Violation Tracker, produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First, is available at no charge at www.goodjobsfirst.org/violation-tracker.

 

“With coverage from 2000 onward, Violation Tracker now spans the entire modern corporate crime wave from Enron and WorldCom through Wells Fargo and Volkswagen,” said Good Jobs First Research Director Philip Mattera, who leads the work on the database. Previously the database covered the period since 2010.

 

The expansion nearly doubles the size of Violation Tracker to 300,000 entries, which together account for more than $394 billion in fines and settlements. As a measure of how corporate crime is concentrated within big business, 95 percent of those penalty values were assessed against only 2,800 large parent companies whose subsidiaries are linked together in the database. Approximately 200,000 smaller businesses account for the remaining five percent of the dollar total.

 

The list of corporations with the largest overall penalties does not change much as a result of the additional ten years of coverage. Financial giants such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, along with BP and Volkswagen, still dominate the top ten. But the full list for the period since 2000 now includes controversial corporations from the early years of the 21st Century, including Adelphia Communications ($715 million in penalties documented), WorldCom ($504 million) and Enron ($446 million).

 

Although it is too soon to draw any conclusions about the Trump Administration’s record, the recent data added to Violation Tracker shows that the level of enforcement activity at many agencies has not significantly changed. Overall, the database documents $9.9 billion in penalties announced since Inauguration Day; however $5.5 billion of that is a single case: the Royal Bank of Scotland agreeing to compensate the Federal Housing Finance Agency for toxic securities sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the period leading up to the financial meltdown. Good Jobs First will do a more thorough analysis of the Trump Administration’s regulatory enforcement record next year.

 

Violation Tracker’s entries, which come from more than 40 federal regulatory agencies and the major divisions of the U.S. Justice Department, cover a wide array of civil and criminal offenses, including: violations of environmental, workplace safety, drug safety, consumer product safety, and transportation safety regulations; banking, securities, and accounting fraud; price-fixing; collective bargaining and fair labor standards violations; employment discrimination; False Claims Act cases; foreign bribery; money laundering; and corporate tax evasion. Cases handled solely by individual U.S. Attorney offices and by state agencies will be added later. A full list of covered agencies is provided here.

 

Each entry links to an official online information source. In many cases, we also link to archival copies of documents preserved on the Good Jobs First server. The latter include some 3,500 entries created from documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests when agency data was not available online. Several of those FOIA requests are still pending.

 

Violation Tracker enables searching the data in numerous ways. The latest addition is a feature allowing for searches by NAICS industry codes for entries from agencies that provide that information.

 

Good Jobs First is a non-profit, non-partisan resource center promoting accountability in economic development. Based in Washington DC, it was founded in 1998. Its Corporate Research Project provides research resources for organizations and individuals concerned about all forms of corporate accountability. The initial version of Violation Tracker was made possible by a grant from the Bauman Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Surdna Foundation, the MMHBO Fund, and The Reva & David Logan Foundation.