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It’s a matter of sharing (or not)

The Financial Times of 9.11.2015 offers a fascinating narrative that wonderfully illustrates the fine line between organizational and occupational financial crimes. Mr. Perry Stimpson, formerly an FX trader at Citigroup in London, alleged that exploiting confidential client information was so prevalent at Citigroup, committed by, among others, senior staff, that his termination for the same or similar conduct was wrongful. It was allegedly an organizational financial practice of Citigroup professionally and not an occupational financial crime by Mr. Stimpson personally (compare the alleged embezzlement by MtGox founder Mr. Mark Karpeles).

In these days of widespread surveillance, the likelihood of getting away with occupational crimes seems reduced. With the information (including metadata) disclosed through emails, instant messages, telephone calls, website visits, computer network usage, etc. maintained in searchable logs and other databases, the chances of successfully orchestrating collusive kickback and bribery schemes are countered by the pervasive monitoring facilitated by modern technology. However, when the activity becomes shared horizontally and vertically within the organization, it is routinized and expected – a naturalized part of doing business as usual.

Of course, the ethics and morality of Mr. Stimpson’s alleged conduct, whether committed only by him or by the organization at large, have not changed. Compare the act of murder committed by an individual in civil society and the act of killing committed by a soldier in the context of war – a comparison most inapt for the assessment of FX trading in Citigroup at London. Hypothetically, when 50 people do a bad deed, it does not become a good deed, at least in civil society.