The corporate elites seem to think that everything is fair in business and business. Who cares about love and war when the world can be bought by the almighty money?
Recently, DLF and its six top notch executives were found guilty of suppressing vital information with the intention to mislead investors. Their punishment: three years debarring from securities market. Right, for duping investors of their lifelong savings, they get three puny years away from strolling in Dalal Street (not even a jail term).
SEBI has cracked whip on several executives over the years, including, the Satyam defrauding case, the Sahara case. In each of the cases some of the most high-profile names were seen dumped into jail. That does give a strong message but is it enough? In most of the cases, the offenders walk free after paying a large sum of money as fine- which may seem hefty in our eyes but is really isn’t for those playing in billions.
If you are thinking that the ‘West’ is doing better in these terms then think again. Reports are full of examples where executives have walked free with just a monetary penalty. Take for instance the Gabelli vs SEC case or the McAfee case. In both, the companies consented (without admitting to allegations by Securities and Exchange Commission) to pay penalty of several million dollars. Yet again, the ‘Corporate Criminals’ get off criminal charges by means of money.
It is not the law breakers who are being punished. Ultimately the strain is on shareholders. These public enterprises amass huge sums by issuing shares, usually at inflated rates. The smaller investors put their hard earned money into these, hoping that the returns shall give them life-long security. But what happens in the end?
Either the corporation never gets under scanner for misconduct and miscommunication, or if they are caught then they are let off with monetary penalties. What kind of a justice is that?
Companies are playing with emotions and finances of the general community. Think of the tea-stallers, the mom-and-pop shop owners, the sole-proprietors who aren’t big enough to own billion dollar companies but have just a small dream- assured returns on their biggest investments. They dream of getting their children educated and plan for their retirements.
Do they deserve to be in the lurch for the misconduct of those who wear costly suits, drive mercedes, spend thousands in shoes and bags, enjoy foreign trips in the weekends, earn billions and walk off free with just a few million bucks penalty?
Not only that, they remain unaffected of the guilt-conscious. The people get the message- there is no ethic in business and no justice when everything is at the mercy of money.
By: Parmita Dubey