The emergence and scale of white-collar crime is, arguably, most plausibly understood as an historical and institutional phenomenon. However, white-collar crime laws, like much of the legislation in liberal democracies, are applied to individual persons. As we have already noted, this abstraction of the individual from the social context is also reflected in much of the criminology literature where white-collar crime is `explained' as the product of `deviant' individuals who are greedy, lacking self- control, etc. (see Morrison, 1995; Geis et al, 1995). This focus upon the personality of individual criminals may be of some help in differentiating those individuals who are most vulnerable to the attraction of activities that are defined as criminal. However, a focus upon the personalities of individuals also obscures the extent to which institutional structures and norms provide both opportunity and motive for engaging in activities that are proscribed as criminal. A focus upon individual motives disregards the ways in which, for example, modern organizations, such as banks (e.g. BCCI), operate to facilitate the growth of white-collar crime, such as moneylaundering. As Kerry and Brown (1992) show, moneylaundering is not conceived by wicked individuals in some Dickensian `den of crimes'. Rather it is planned, executed, minuted and concealed in clean, respectable, warm and well-lit city centre offices, by quiet men/women in smart clothes who do not raise their voices and keep a relatively low profile.

White-collar crime is perhaps best theorised as an activity that is increasingly undertaken by organized groups, corporations and elite occupations which operate within the values of capitalism which privilege competition and conflict. `Bending the rules' is often regarded as a sign of business acumen (Coleman, 1994) or as stealing a march on a competitor rather than acting in a criminal way. Ceteris paribus, it is to be expected that white-collar crime will increase where pressures associated with promotions, prestige, status and rewards intensify and are increasingly linked to profits , securing markets, niches and meeting business targets. It may be hypothesised that much of the reported increase in white-collar crime in the 1980s and 1990s is connected with historical changes in the nature of capitalism in the Western world where profits are increasingly made from speculative ventures such as currency trading, takeovers, futures trading, land speculation, insider trading, beating exchange controls; or what might be called `placing good bets'. Accompanying and amplifying these shifts has been an erosion of moral restraint and `gentlemanly conduct' (so far as this ever existed). Any `deal' becomes acceptable as long as it is profitable and, increasingly, the crime resides more in being caught than engaging in dishonourable or illegal activity. Indeed, `smart' business activity resides in constructing mechanisms through which benefits are derived from illegal activities whilst escaping any (legal) responsibility for their operation. Through such activities little, if anything, is produced, but the gains are quick and large and can be made with anonymity.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, AGIP (Africa) Limited, a company incorporated in Jersey was engaged in drilling for oil in Tunisia, on its own behalf and in joint ventures with other companies under permits and concessions granted by the Tunisian Government. The Tunis branch held a US dollar account at Banque du Sud from which overseas suppliers were paid. Over a period of many years (since 1976), both before and after 1983 when accountants Jackson & Co. became involved in the matter (see below), AGIP was systematically defrauded of millions of dollars by its chief accountant, a Mr. Zdiri. Though not a director of the company or a signatory of any bank account, he was responsible for collecting invoices and matching them to the completed payment orders prior to obtaining approved signatures for the same. He was also responsible for banking. The court case revealed that Mr Zdiri had used his position to misappropriate the funds by altering the name of the payee on the payment orders after obtaining authorised signatures.

The court heard that between March 1983 and January 1985, Mr. Zdiri defrauded AGIP of US$10.5 million by altering some 27 orders which found their way to England. The payees were all companies registered in England and managed by Jackson & Co., based in the Isle of Man. Seven different companies, each holding a US$ account at a major branch of Lloyds Bank (a major British bank) were used in succession to receive the monies. However, AGIP did not bring a criminal case for fraud or even a case for the recovery of US$10.5 million or anything (said to be in excess of $17 million) dating back from 1976. Instead it took civil action under `law of trust' to recover only the sum of US $518,822.92 (being the last of the diverted monies), paid on 7th January 1985 to Baker Oil Services (for details see below), on the ground that this was all that Jackson & Co. could reasonably afford to repay.

The case was defended by Mr. Barry Jackson and a Mr. Edward Bowers , who practiced as chartered accountants in Douglas, Isle of Man, under the name of Jackson & Co. The third defendant, a Mr. Ian Griffin, was an employee of the firm. Jackson & Co., it transpired, were acting on the instructions of a French lawyer, Monsieur Yves Coulon, who in turn was acting for principals whose identity is not known. The court noted that Jackson & Co. were introduced to the prevailing arrangements by Roger Humphrey of Thornton Baker (now Grant Thornton) who also provided the payee companies (see further details below). Each of the companies had a nominal share capital which was usually registered in the names of service companies provided by Jackson & Co. In each case, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Griffin were the directors and the authorised signatories on the company's bank account. Roger Humphrey was also a director and a signatory in the case of the first few companies. None of the companies had any assets or carried on any genuine business activity. In the case of each company, except that of Baker Oil, after two or three payments had been received and paid out, the account was closed and a new account opened for the successor company. Its predecessor was then put into liquidation and either Mr. Jackson or Mr. Bowers were appointed liquidator. All bank statements of the payee companies' showed the receipts to be derived from payments made by AGIP.

When a payment was received by the payee company, it was immediately transferred, usually on the same day, to another company, Euro-Arabian Jewellery Limited, which also maintained a US dollar account at the same branch of Lloyds bank. Euro-Arabian was registered in England with Mr. Jackson as one of its three directors. Jackson, Humphrey and Griffin were the authorised signatories of its bank account, with the agreement that either could act as a signatory in his own right. There is no evidence to show that Euro-Arabian carried on any genuine business activity. As soon as it received any payment from a payee company, it paid it out to parties located abroad. Most of the money went to Kinz Joaillier SARL, incorporated in France, which appears to be a subsidiary of Euro-Arabian Jewellery. Mr. Jackson was a director of the company with Yves Coulon acting as its legal adviser. Coulon had no authority to operate the bank accounts of any of the payee companies or Euro- Arabian, but the bank's assistant manager, a Mr. Breeze, was authorised to disclose information about the accounts to him. Indeed, Coulon visited the bank during his travels to London and lunched with Breeze who believed Coulon to be the man behind all the arrangements. Breeze was told to expect payments of about US $500,000 per month from Tunis. When a payment was expected, he would be notified by Jackson & Co. Upon receipt of money, he would telephone Jackson & Co and inform them that the sums had been received. After a short interval, but usually on the same day (presumably after instructions from someone e.g. Coulon), upon Mr. Jackson's instructions, the monies would be paid out.

The case brought by AGIP centred on a payment to Baker Oil which was incorporated on 12 December 1984. Baker Oil had authorised share capital of 2,000 with two shareholders and bank signatories who were also its directors. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Griffin held the entire issued share capital of 1 each. Baker Oil opened a US$ account at the same London bank branch on 17th December 1984. Just a day later, a Mr. Del Sorbo, an AGIP official had signed a payment order of US $518,802.92 in favour of Maersk Supply (Tunisia) Limited, payable at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York. After the signature, the payment had been altered and made payable to `Beker-Service Cie' with the address of the London branch of Lloyds Bank and the correct number of Baker Oil's dollar account. The altered payment order was executed by Banqu du Sud on 7th January 1985. Jackson & Co. had already told Lloyds Bank to expect a payment and asked to be informed of its arrival. On 7th January Mr. Del Sorbo also became aware of the fraud as he visited Banque du Sud. He asked the bank to stop the payments, but due to time differences between London, Tunis and New York, payments had already been made and could not be reversed. The sum of US$ 518,822.92 was received to the account of Baker Oil and then transferred to the account of Jackson & Co (opened in March 1984), held at the same branch of Lloyds and Baker Oil's account was immediately closed. These transactions were confirmed in a letter to Baker Oil. On 9th January 1985, the same amount was transferred to Jackson & Co's 'Client's' account at the Isle of Man Bank Limited. On 15th January, most of the amount was paid out from this bank account to Kinz Joaillier SARL. Subsequently, Baker Oil, Euro-Arabian and Kinz were all put into liquidation. AGIP brought proceedings in Tunisia against Banqu du Sud and also sought to recover US$ 518,822.92 from Baker Oil (which no longer existed) and Jackson & Co.

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