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Significance of White Collar Crime in the Federal Republic of Germany

NCJ Number
G Kaiser
Date Published
Estimates of losses from white-collar crime in West Germany during the 1970's have ranged from 10 to 55 billion marks; empirical data on serious economic crimes prosecuted in 1976 cite approximately 3,000 cases with losses of about 4 billion marks.
Although economic crimes comprise only 3 to 5 percent of total reported crime in the country, a relatively small number of white-collar offenders (1976: 6,149) perform disproportionately many (1976: 41,954) individual offenses that harm a large number of victims (1976: 96,371). Most serious economic crimes involve complex violations and multiple charges. Studies have yielded a profile of the typical white-collar offender as a married man over 40 without a former criminal record. Serious economic offenses are usually carried on in collusion, behind the front of some legitimate business organization in banking, construction and real estate, or transportation. Common offense types are tax and customs evasions, bankruptcy fraud, and various swindles. Victimization from white-collar crime usually involves deceit and strikes governmental or business establishments as well as private citizens. Because of the middle-class status of the offenders, public opinion on appropriate sanctions for white-collar crime remains nebulous. Furthermore, investigation of these crimes is very complex and lengthy; many cases are never prosecuted for lack of evidence, although three-quarters of tax or customs evasion and fencing cases are cleared. Law enforcement and prosecutorial personnel specializing in white-collar investigation have raised the number of indictments, but the courts are experiencing heavy backlogs as a result. Uniform nationwide reporting practices have been instituted and should enhance efforts for economic crime control by providing better empirical data. Forty endnotes are given.