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Keeping Corporations Accountable

Photo of Samuel Buell
Duke Law School - Duke Photography
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In 2001, Enron Corporation, which was once the sixth-largest energy company in the world, filed for bankruptcy.

It has since become one of the most notorious examples of accounting fraud and corporate crime. However, incidents of corporate crime persisted after the Enron scandal and led to further economic turmoil in the 2008 financial crisis.

In his new book, "Capital Offenses: Business Crime And Punishment In America's Corporate Age" (W.W. Norton & Company/2016), Samuel Buell, professor of law at Duke University, examines the history of corporate liability and the legal obstacles to prosecuting corporations.

Under criminal law, a corporation can be prosecuted as a legal person, however, the procedure for prosecuting a corporation and keeping business firms accountable is complex.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Buell about the legal issues at stake in corporate liability and how the justice system can minimize corporate crime.

Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC. His fascination for audio storytelling and radio journalism began as a broadcast major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began his career as a reporter for Carolina Connection, UNC’s student-led radio news show, where Charlie’s work won multiple Hearst Journalism Awards.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.