Difference between white collar crime and economic crime

Difference between white collar crime and economic crime

Difference between white collar crime and economic crime

The terms ‘Economic Crime’ and ‘White Collar Crimes’ are more often than not, used as synonyms In fact, both the terms need to be used to define different categories of crime.

While white collar crimes can be said to be crimes committed by professionals like chartered accountants, public servants, private employees in the course of their occupation, economic offences are crimes committed by intelligent but devious individuals involving huge sums ofpublic or government money.

Difference between white collar crime and economic crime

White-collar or socio-economic crimes are radically different from ordinary or conventional type of crimes in several respect :

  1. These crimes are committed by statused people in society such as — doctors, advocates, chartered accountants, government officials, repairers of mechanical goods [such as T.V.s, radios, refrigerators, etc.] and not the traditional criminals such as — robbers, thieves, dacoits, murderers, rapists, etc.
  2. These crimes are normally committed by means of fraud, deceit, misappropriation, misrepresentation, adulteration, malpractices, irregularities and so on.
  3. These crimes are committed by means of deliberate and planned conspiracies without any feelings and sentiments.
  4. When socio-economic crimes are committed people tend to tolerate them because they themselves indulge in them and they themselves often identify with those who do them.
  5. Originally white-collar crime meant to describe middle and upper class business persons who committed crime in the normal course of their work. But now it refers to a wide variety ofoccupationally oriented violations committed by persons in any class.
  6. The victim of socio-economic crimes is normally the entire community, society or even the entire nation besides the individuals.
  7. These crimes do not involve or carry with them any stigma while the ‘traditional crimes carry a stigma involving disgrace and immorality.
  8. These crimes constitute a separate category because the control of such crimes “involves the protection and preservation of the general health and economic system ofthe entire society against exploitation and waste.

Definition of  White Collar Crime

The term ‘white collar crime’ has been widely incorporated into popular and scholarly language throughout the world. However, there does not exist a universal definition that is agreed upon by all. Sociologists and criminologists, though disagree in among themselves about exactly what the term means, have been talking about it for more than seventy years. As a class of criminal activity, white collar crimes have as yet no legislative or legal definition. Different jurists, law enforcement agencies, international organisations have given their own meanings to the term.

Sutherland defined ‘white collar crime’ as

“A crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation”.

Later on in his book Sutherland modified his earlier definition in the following way:

“White collar crime may be defined approximately as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.”

In 1970 Herbert Edelhertz who was the chief of the fraud section of the Federal Department of Justice gave a definition on white collar crime. He defined white collar crime as

“an illegal act or series of illegal acts committed by non physical means and by concealment or guile to obtain money or property to avoid the payment or loss of money or property or to obtain business or personal advantage.”

Nature of White Collar Crimes

After analysing the definitions and studying the unique characteristics of white collar crime, the next step is to see the nature of these crimes. Crime or an offence is “a legal wrong that can be followed by criminal proceedings which may result into punishment.”

The hallmark of criminality is that, it is breach of the criminal law. There exist two divergent views regarding the nature of white collar crime. According to one view, white collar crimes are ‘crimes’ in real sense where as the other side raises doubt regarding the criminality of white collar crimes.

Those who advocate the non inclusion of white collar crimes in ‘crimes’ say that the vast bulk of white-collar legislation is regulatory rather than penal in philosophy, is administrative in procedure, and by its qualifications is directed chiefly toward the business and professional classes of our society.

Most of the statues dealing with white collar violations are administrative in nature. The discretion is vested on the concerned authority to decide whether penal action must be initiated or not. They treat white collar crime as a tort.

Also Read 

Difference Between Board, Council, Committee, Commission and Tribunal

Difference between Companies and Partnerships

Difference between Companies and Partnerships

Rule of Harmonious Construction

Foreign Exchange Regulation Act


Fundamental Rights



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