White-Collar Crime: How Does It Affect You?

Anita Anand - white woman with black shoulder length hair
White-Collar Crime: How Does It Affect You?
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Janet Bedford

Janet Bedford is a broker with Royal LePage in downtown Oakville, with 20 years of real estate experience. Along with helping her clients find the perfect home or sell their home, she is often found photographing the many events that take place in Oakville. She has written extensively for various publications.

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In Criminal Law, what is White-Collar Crime? How might it affect you? What can be done to reform the present system? To improve an important part of our legal system and to aid in setting out proper sentencing for white-collar crimes, the answers to these questions are just the beginning. The most important question facing the courts is, “Did the suspect mean to commit crime”? This is called the “Mens rea” and in the case of White-Collar Crime it is very difficult to prove. According to an extremely knowledgeable Professor Anita Anand LLM, the recent Canadian Club of Halton Peel guest speaker, “A person is never punished for thinking wrong thoughts – he/she must commit the crime and be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Anita Anand LLM – Professor of Law & Academic Director, Centre for the Legal Profession and the Program on Ethics in Law and Business, University of Toronto, spoke to the Canadian Club of Halton Peel at the Oakville Conference Centre. Her topic; “White Collar Crime & Punishment”. Before joining the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 2006, Anita was an Associate Professor at Queen’s Law School where she received the Queen’s Law Students’ Society Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Anand’s many academic and community appointments include: C.D. Howe Institute Fellow-in-Residence and board member of Oakville Hydro Electricity Distribution Inc., the Oakville Hospital Foundation and St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School. She was also the inaugural Chair of the Ontario Securities Commission’s Investor Advisory Panel (2010-2012).

Anita Anand LLM &  the Canadian Club of Halton Peel Head Table,

Anita Anand LLM & the Canadian Club of Halton Peel Head Table, Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

Anita Anand says that “White collar crime does not include criminals such as Paul Bernardo or Mohammad Shaftia but often does include persons who are financially motivated and non-violent; usually business and government professionals (according to Wikipedia.org.) Most of us have invested at one time or another and lost money; sometimes a healthy part of our savings. This loss is often a result of listening to a tip or acting upon advice of a friend or financial advisor. Anand says that, “Approximately 50% of all working Canadians are invested in the securities market and 55% own securities outside a retirement savings plan.” Not all losses are the result of fraud or unethical attempts by the people making investment suggestions. Many of us, however, have lost money at one time or another and feel that something shady has occurred. Can we prove it? Usually not.

Charles Ponzi developed a scheme where he promised 50% returns in 90 days. Ponzi would take new investors’ money, pay himself and give some to earlier investors, encouraging them to leave their money invested for long periods of time. This was a great idea, but not sustainable. Ponzi’s attitude was summed up, according to Anita Anand, in the following statement, “Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price. Without malice, aforethought I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over.”

Buyer Beware! Brilliant minds are at work! Furthermore, as already stated, “A person is never punished for thinking wrong thoughts – he/she must commit the crime and be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” – A fascinating discussion with only a limited number of answers. The question and answer period was very lively and educational.

On October 22, 2015 Canadian Club of Halton Peel will feature David Evans, Ph.D., Temerty Chair & Curator in Vertebrate Palaeontology, Royal Ontario Museum and Associate Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto. He will fascinate us with his stories of “Hunting Dinosaurs in Western Canada”.

Reservations for the dinner can be made by e-mail (barrywylie1@gmail.com), by telephone (905-827-6302) or by mail (cheques payable to the Canadian Club of Halton Peel, 283 River Side Drive, Oakville, L6K 3N3).


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