Democratic Senators Introduce Bill to Hold Corporate Officers Criminally Responsible for Concealing Dangers
Democrats in the U.S. Senate want business leaders held criminally accountable for knowingly concealing harmful products or decisions from consumers and workers.
The Hide No Harm Act, (pdf), introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) calls for executives to be prosecuted and jailed if found guilty of making decisions that injure or kill people.
Democrats say current federal law provides insufficient penalties to discourage corporations from making potentially reckless decisions. In fact, executives cannot be brought up on criminal charges even they knowingly allow defective products to be sold, resulting in serious harm or fatalities.
The recent recall and controversy surrounding General Motors is one prime example, bill supporters say. Some GM officials knew about their cars’ faulty ignition switches as early as 2001, and yet allowed them to be sold and driven for years after. At least 13 people may have died as a result of these decisions.
So far, the worst that the federal government has thrown at GM for its negligence is $35 million in fines, with no managers or executives facing prosecution.
Other cases of corporations harming consumers without any leader going to prison include Merck, which knew about the risks of the arthritis drug Vioxx while selling it to patients, nearly 140,000 of whom experienced heart attacks.
“Countless numbers of workers and citizens have suffered and died because companies withheld and hid information on the dangers of products and exposures like asbestos,” Peg Seminario, safety and health director for the AFL-CIO, told the media. “This bill would hold corporate officials personally responsible for their role in these deaths and injuries, help stop corporate concealment and save lives.”
To Learn More:
Bill Would Criminalize Concealment of Danger (Corporate Crime Reporter)
New Legislation Would Allow Criminal Penalties Against Corporate Officers Who Hide Information on Dangerous Products (Consumer Federation of America)
Hide No Harm Act (Corporate Crime Reporter) (pdf)
General Motors Orders 30th Recall of the Year (and it’s only May) (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
CEO Who Oversaw Mass Vioxx Deaths Now Teaching at Harvard and on Microsoft Board of Directors (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Vicki Baker, AllGov)
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