One does not need to read much to discover popular beliefs such as expanded compliance jobs are an effective remedy, clever white-collar criminals are way too smart to be brought down by internal auditors, the government does not have enough financial and other resources to catch the worst of the white-collar criminals, etc. However, these widespread myths suffer from the following attributes of reality:
- No high-level managerial agents in the compliance function are demanded to, as part of their job description in form at HR and actual job performance over lines of business operations, go after the most influential, most devious, most high-powered wrongdoers working on the inside of the corporation. These compliance agents are not demanded to begin developing fraud cases against these potential fraudsters. Compliance departments are not units designed to bring down their employers.
- Technological tools, including the ability to conduct deep and wide surveillance, are available to detect anybody’s wrongdoing. The boardroom may be observed as easily as the mailroom. As actions leave audit footprints (e.g., computer logs, financial records), anyone may be caught where there’s the will to detect his / her malfeasance. Pardon the X-Files reference: The truth is out there.
- The U.S. government has the resources to crush nearly anyone they target. There’s a reason well over 90% of criminal charges result in guilty pleas – very few can afford to fight back. This argument applies also at the state level but to a lesser extent. Records demonstrating whom law enforcement agencies target and whom they overlook are not publicly available, but be assured that few are living beyond the radar, especially those with oodles of financial resources (however sourced).
While it may be true that compliance and internal audit functions are not about to cleanse corporations of all major wrongdoing in the near term, the notion that some are too smart to be detected by the outmatched U.S. government and victimized corporations is not about to leave the field of mythology into the realm of truthfulness anytime soon.