CRG 44/16-17: Corporate offending in Australia: The extent of the problem

Report to the Criminology Research Advisory Council

Corporate crime is increasingly becoming a topic of importance for the Australian Government and public. Recent inquiries have highlighted the extent of wrongdoing by some corporations and within some industries. However, the overall extent of corporate offending in Australia is largely unknown and unable to be ascertained due to the absence of centralised reporting. This study examines 33 of Australia’s largest corporations and their subsidiaries over a five-year period. Drawing upon publicly available data, the findings highlight that offending is concentrated in particular industry sectors, with some specific corporations accounting for a substantial proportion of offences. The type and extent of enforcement action taken against those corporations is examined and reveals differences, in part based upon the different enforcement styles of regulators. The findings from this study have important implications for regulatory practice and emphasise the need for a centralised corporate crime data collection in Australia.