White-collar crime is crime committed by a person of responsibility and high social
status in the course of his or her occupation. It differs from conventional crime in that
the victims may be unaware of the crime and the offender may not view himself as a
criminal. White-collar crimes are committed by the affluent, “respectable” people in the
course of their daily business activities. These are organized crimes because they are
often perpetuated through the role of one’s occupation.
A wide variety of crimes are now classified as white-collar crimes such as income tax
evasion, stock manipulation, consumer fraud, bribery, and extraction of kickbacks,
embezzlement, and misrepresentation of corporate information.
A newer type of white-collar crime is computer crime. The use of such high technology
allows one to carry out embezzlement or electronic fraud without leaving a trace, or to
gain access to a company’s inventory without leaving one’s home.
In addition to the financial costs of this form of crime, that run into billions of rupees per
year, white-collar crimes have distinctive social costs, including a decline in the quality
of life, inflation for general public, and weakening of the social order. If those at the top
of the nation’s economic, power and social structure feel free to violate the law, less
privileged citizens can certainly be expected to follow suit.
Given the economic and social costs of white-collar crimes, one might expect this
problem to be taken quite seriously by the criminal justice system of Pakistan. Yet
white-collar offenders are more likely to be very leniently treated than any other class
of criminals. They are not arrested because bails-before-arrest are granted to them quite
readily, hearings against them proceed with much delays in the courts, and eventually
only financial penalties are imposed upon them. Moreover, convictions for such illegal
acts do not generally harm a person’s reputation and career aspirations nearly so much
as conviction for a petty everyday crime would. Thus, if an offender holds a position of
status and influence in Pakistani society, his or her crime is treated as less serious and the
sanction is much more lenient.