Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled new legislation on Wednesday morning that would make it easier to criminally charge -- and jail -- corporate executives for alleged abuses by their companies.
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The new law, called the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, pushes additional oversight on Wall Street by expanding criminal liability to any corporate executive who oversees a company that ultimately “causes severe and widespread harm to families,” the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential hopeful said in a tweet.
Warren, a firebrand policy-setter with a track record of targeting big business and Wall Street, said Congress should begin by enacting the Ending Too Big to Jail Act that she introduced last March. That particular bill would make it easier to hold executives accountable by requiring them to certify that they conducted a “due diligence” inquiry and found no illegal conduct on their watch.
“But we can go further still,” Warren wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
Under the new bill, criminal liability would be widened to executives of any company with more than $1 billion in annual revenue if that company were found: guilty of a crime, or liable for a civil violation affecting the health, safety, finances or personal data of 1 percent of the U.S. population, or 1 percent of the population of any state.
The legislation would also target executives of corporations that are found liable or guilty of a second civil or criminal violation for a different activity while operating under a civil or criminal judgment of any court, a deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreement, or settlement with any state or Federal agency.
Punishments for such a violation would result in up to one year in jail, while a second violation would entail up to three years in jail, according to a news release.
Warren specifically pointed to the 2008 financial crisis, when no executives were ever prosecuted for their role in causing it, and to pharmaceutical executives who have escaped unscathed from their alleged role in the opioid crisis in the U.S. which has left tens of thousands of Americans dead.
“Corporate America needs a wake-up call,” she argued.