Corporate crime in Australia: The extent of the problem

Photo of a crowd

Government and public concern about corporate wrongdoing in Australia is arguably at an all-time high. However, the extent and nature of corporate crime is largely unknown; it is concealed by regulatory agency reporting practices and the absence of a single data source which combines data across all regulators. This study addresses the problem by examining corporate offending by 33 of the country’s top companies, and their wholly owned subsidiaries, over a five-year period. The results indicate that corporate offending is patterned and unevenly distributed across the business community. Drawing on the findings and on their experience of conducting the research, the authors make recommendations for improving policy and practice, including the establishment of a national database of corporate offending.


URLs current as at February 2024

Ayres I & Braithwaite J 1992. Responsive regulation: Transcending the deregulation debate. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Barak G 2012. Theft of a nation: Wall Street looting and federal regulatory colluding. Plymouth, UK: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers

Benson ML & Simpson SS 2018. White-collar crime: An opportunity perspective. New York, NY: Routledge

Black J 2010. Risk-based regulation: Choices, practices and lessons being learnt. In Risk and regulatory policy: Improving the governance of risk. Paris: OECD Publishing: 185–224.

Braithwaite J 2011. The essence of responsive regulation. UBCL Review 44(3): 475–520

Braithwaite J 2006. Responsive regulation and developing economies. World Development 34(5): 884–98

Cameron A 2002. Effective enforcement: The Australian experience. Paper to the OECD Second International Roundtable on Securities Markets, Shanghai, China, 6–7 June.

Clinard MR & Yeager PC 1980. Corporate crime. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers

Department of Finance 2017. Commonwealth procurement rules. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia

Good Jobs First 2016. Violations tracker.

Grabosky P & Braithwaite J 1986. Of manners gentle: Enforcement strategies of Australian business regulatory agencies. Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Grudnoff M, Lindqvist J, Richardson D & Swann T 2016. Corporate malfeasance in Australia. Canberra: The Australia Institute.

Gunningham N 2007. Prosecution for OHS offences: Deterrent or disincentive? Sydney Law Review 29(3): 359–90

Karpoff JM, Lott, JR & Wehrly EW 2005. The reputational penalties for environmental violations: Empirical evidence. Journal of Law and Economics 48(2): 653–75

Kouzmin A, Loeffler E, Klages H & Kakabadse NK 1999. Benchmarking and performance measurement in public sectors. International Journal of Public Sector Management 12(2): 121–44

Rorie M, Alper M, Schell-Busey N & Simpson SS 2018. Using meta-analysis under conditions of definitional ambiguity: The case of corporate crime. Criminal Justice Studies 31(1): 38–61

Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry 2019. Final report. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Schell-Busey N, Simpson SS, Rorie M & Alper M 2016. What works? A systematic review of corporate crime deterrence. Criminology and Public Policy 15(2): 387–416

Senate Standing Committee on Economics 2017. ‘Lifting the fear and suppressing the greed’: Penalties for white-collar crime and corporate and financial misconduct in Australia. Canberra: Parliament of Australia.

Simpson SS et al. 2014. Corporate crime deterrence: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews 10(4). DOI: 10.4073/csr.2014.4

Simpson SS & Koper CS 1992. Deterring corporate crime. Criminology 30: 347–76

Slapper G & Tombs S 1999. Corporate crime. Harlow, UK: Longman

Sparrow MK 2000. The regulatory craft: controlling risks, solving problems, and managing compliance. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press

Steen D, McGrath D & Wong A 2016. Market failure, regulation and education of financial advisors. Australasian Accounting, Business and Finance Journal 10(2): 3–17

Ting A 2014. iTax: Apple’s international tax structure and the double non-taxation issue. British Tax Review 1: 40–71

Voss C, Åhlström P & Blackmon K 1997. Benchmarking and operational performance: Some empirical results. International Journal of Operations & Production Management 17(10): 1046–1058

Zsidisin G & Ritchie B 2009. Supply chain risk management: Developments, issues and challenges. In G Zsidisin & B Ritchie (eds), Supply chain risk management: A handbook of assessment, management, and performance. New York: Springer Science + Business Media