Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Ensuring Accountability for Corporate Criminals

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Cleaning Up the C-Suite: Ensuring Accountability for Corporate Criminals.”  The hearing follows yesterday’s reintroduction of the Corporate Crime Database Act, which would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to collect, aggregate, analyze, and publish comprehensive data on federal corporate criminal enforcement actions, by Durbin, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and U.S. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-05). 

Federal prosecutions of corporate crime have reached record lows under the Trump and Biden Administrations.  In 2020, DOJ prosecuted only 94 corporate crimes, and, in 2021, only 90 corporate crimes were prosecuted—that’s less than half of the average annual number of corporate crime prosecutions in the previous 25 years.

Key Quotes:

“Countless companies have settled multi-billion dollar lawsuits outside of court, but far too often, the executives responsible for the decisions that led to those lawsuits have escaped prosecution and liability.”

“As a result, many people personally impacted by these corporate crimes have been denied true justice—like Ryan Hampton, whom we will hear from today.  He is one of millions who became addicted to opioids because of corporate greed and misconduct by companies like Purdue Pharma—while billionaire members of the Sackler family, who owned Purdue Pharma, have been shielded from personal liability.”

“In recent decades, federal prosecutors have regularly settled criminal investigations of corporations, with agreements to defer prosecution in exchange for increased compliance efforts.  This process has led to limited judicial oversight and a lack of real consequences for corporations when they commit crimes.  The victims of corporate crimes deserve better.”

“As a first step, we need greater transparency about these lenient—and frequently unjust—resolutions.  That’s why last year, I introduced legislation with Senator Blumenthal to require more comprehensive data collection regarding corporate crime.” 

“We need to provide DOJ with the resources necessary to prosecute corporations when they engage in complex criminal activity.”

“Corporate executives have little incentive to change their criminal conduct without fear of real consequences for their actions.  Right now, they’re not worried about much more than a measly fine—a rounding error compared to their enormous profits.  It’s an unacceptable process that gives no relief to the families of the victims and to those who face the real-life damages.”

“I want to commend Attorney General Garland and Deputy Attorney General Monaco for making corporate crime a top priority and updating DOJ’s enforcement policies.  I’m sure they’d agree that more must be done.”

“There cannot be two systems of justice—one for wealthy corporations and executives, and one for everyday Americans.  Too many people have suffered at the hands of corporate criminals.  They deserve real justice, and the public deserves answers.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

DOJ has recently acknowledged a significant decline in corporate criminal prosecutions over the last two decades and has committed to making corporate criminal enforcement a priority, including the formation of a Corporate Crime Advisory Group and additional policy changes guiding corporate crime enforcement.

Last October, Durbin, Blumenthal, and Scanlon successfully advocated for DOJ to bolster corporate crime data collection and increase transparency about its efforts to combat corporate crime. In May, DOJ announced a new corporate crime section on its public website with a searchable corporate crime database, a promising start to implementing reforms that would be required by the Corporate Crime Database Act