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Andrew Dickens: The biggest crimes are going unreported

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 5 Sep 2022, 1:35pm
 (Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Andrew Dickens: The biggest crimes are going unreported

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 5 Sep 2022, 1:35pm

Another day and another debate on crime and what to do with it.

There is no doubt the craze for ram raiding amongst the young has contributed to the perception that crime is out of control.

Add to that the growing number of gun crimes, particularly amongst the gangs. It has led to a feeling that our streets are more unsafe than they've ever been before.

It has led to the debate on crime to be all about punishment and all about crimes of violence and trespass.

But the iceberg of crime is far bigger than we mostly hear and like an iceberg the biggest crimes are unreported.

Jarrod Gilbert writes today about the incredible level of white-collar crime we have in New Zealand and our laissez-faire attitude towards it.

He cites a couple of cases recently. The bloke charged with stealing $ 600,000 by defrauding the Covid wage subsidy.  Another case saw an allegation of an employer pocketing his staff's PAYE payments to the tune of $300,000.

The size of the problem is even more evident when you look at the assets of criminals seized by the Police.

On the list of the top nine people who have had assets seized or frozen only one was a gang member. The other eight were businessmen.

The alleged illegal assets of the gang member made up just 3 per cent of the total assets of those on the list.  The combined assets of the white-collar criminal's loot was some $322 million.

These are big numbers and big crimes but they're not supported by big sentences.  A fraudster who took investors for $115 million dollars was out of prison on parole after just 6 years. No New Zealand drug lord makes anything near that sort of illegal money.

There's another statistic going about. For every $1 stolen in common or garden crime, there's $40 stolen by white-collar criminals.

Who knows why we are so lenient on the business people defrauding the meek.

The victims are legion.  The investors and super annuitants who lose their nest eggs and their security for the rest of their lives. The fraud that dwarfs any beneficiary fraud in this country.  But do the white-collar criminals face the daily barrage of disgust that we direct at solo mums and residents of emergency housing.

Maybe we just can't imagine that people who send their kids to nice schools and wear nice suits can be just as bad as any low-life mongrel.

If you're a tough-on-crime supporter you might want to get your dander up about that statistic.  

White collar crime destroys lives in a far more widespread and invidious manner and the sooner we get tougher on it the better.

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