Analysis of White-Collared criminals with Power Theory The Person and the case: The person’s profile: To Wall Street, he seemed the quintessential Englishman. Educated at Cambridge and with an interest in a game called rugby, Phillip Bennett was noted for his immaculate appearance. But Bennett, 57, was not the man they thought he was.
Previous career: Bennett, a graduate of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, joined Refco in 1981, became CFO in 1983 and served as president, chief executive officer and chairman beginning in September 1998. Previously, he worked in credit and commercial lending for Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, Toronto, Brussels and London from 1970 to 1981, according to Refco filings with the SEC. Chase Manhattan is now part of New York-based JPMorgan Chase amp. Co., the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets.
Crime: Bennett is charged with defrauding investors of Refco Inc., a financial trading company to a tune of around 550 million Dollars by concealing the information that an INVESTOR is due to the company. In this case, the unnamed investor is Bennett himself. Bennett takes the company’s money on roller coaster with junctions being Liberty CCS, RGH, Refco, and the money finally lands at RGH, which is owned by Bennett. When this roller coaster ride of money is bought into light in October 2005 which consequently leads to his arrest and plunge of 45% of the company’s share value resulting in a $1bn loss in market value, he then surrendered around 450 million dollars and thus enabling himself of pleading not guilty to the court. A perfect case of White-Collared crime.
The Power Theory1:
1) The Germans have described this cause-effect relationship in a meaningful saying:
Gelegenheit macht Diebe – Opportunity creates Thieves – indicating that it is opportunity that causes us to misbehave, not any particular sort of depravity. And opportunity is, of course, nothing but another word for the seemingly critical volume of power. Even a confirmed thief will not steal if he has no chance of getting away with it. On the other hand, even an honest man will misbehave if he has the opportunity, the power to do so.
2) For no one could perpetrate atrocities without the power to do so. The proposition operates also in the reverse. Everyone having the power will in the end commit the appropriate atrocities.
3) Thus, what Bernard Shaw said of a woman’s morality, that it is merely her lack of opportunity, applies to all our virtues. We refrain from misbehaving only if, and so long as, opportunity is lacking. When it arises in an unequivocal shape, only the saints amongst us will be able to resist. And sometimes probably not even them.
4) Critical Magnitudes: It is linked with frequencies and numbers, which exert an intensifying effect, and with the possession of the critical quantity of power, which has a detonating effect.
5) Power and aggressiveness are inseparable twin phenomena in a state of near critical size, and innocence is a virtue only up to a certain point and age.
6) Many will object to the power or size theory also on the ground that it is based on an unduly pessimistic interpretation of man. We behave simply because we know that crime does not pay and that, with the limited power at our disposal, it is more profitable to use it for good than for bad.
7) The rising mass of power will, in the end, brutalize even the best, not necessarily in a subjective sense, but certainly in its effects.
And the ANALYSIS: (point to point)
I now here try to analyze the striking similarities between the so-called White-Collared Criminal to the Power theory.
Mr. Bennett’s career suggests him to honest and talented. Then why did he resort to such heavy malpractice Either in his whole career he never had opportunities or never had the power to resort to such practice. As the Germans saying goes: Gelegenheit macht Diebe – Opportunity creates Thieves. Here the opportunity arouse in the form of size, money, company’s history and confidence of investors. Not only he had opportunity but he held the Power.
Mr. Bennett was lacking in power in his entire career. The power that immunizes him from being caught for his actions. When he became the CEO of Refco Inc., he had both power and opportunity, which gave rise to greed consequently creating a plan to dupe the investors and government in the tune of amount that generally evades the sight of scrutinizers. This is where the power and opportunity reached Critical Magnitude which had a detonating effect. Mr. Bennett saw the opportunity in the form of confidence of investors and partner companies that the company enjoys owing to its presence in the market since 1969 and with a business of around 3bn dollar.
Once he recognized the opportunity, all he had done is flushed the company’s money into his personal holding, courtesy loopholes in government scrutinizing procedures and concealing the financial data with Investors and Partner companies alike.
Though he is presently pleading not guilty, it should be noted from power theory that innocence is a virtue only up to a certain point and age.
In his entire life, Mr. Bennett had the limited power at his disposal, where he it is more profitable to use it for good than for bad.
Some may develop an extraordinary will power and stay good because of sheer intellectual fortitude. but the mere fact that they, too, have to fight hard battles with the forces of opportunity shows the elementary character of these forces.
1) The Power Theory by Leopold Kohr (chapter 2)
2) Inside the shadowy world of Phillip R. Bennett (Filed: 16/10/2005)
3) Refco’s Bennett, Charged With Fraud, Won Trust as CFO
(Update 2 filed: 13/10/2005)