LAWFUEL Press Release Service – Peter Kiernan, fraud and financial crime expert at Eversheds LLP, comments on the conviction of two former executives at Dutch retailer Ahold for fraud:
“In addition to Parmalat, this case has been one of the major precedent-setting fraud trials in Europe and shows that European authorities are cracking down on major white collar criminals.
“However, with the Enron trial also likely to rule soon, the Ahold case highlights the major differences between Europe and the US when it comes to the trial and sentence of white collar criminals. While the two former executives of Ahold received hefty fines and a nine-month suspended sentence, Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay of Enron are both facing 30 years in prison if found guilty. Bernie Ebbers, the former boss at WorldCom, received a hefty 25-year sentence just last year.
“Another important issue this case highlighted is that fraud charges were brought in two different jurisdictions – the US and Holland. The SEC case was settled in the US with both directors accepting a lifetime ban from holding office in any publicly traded company. With more and more businesses operating on an international scale, the possibility of facing legal action in more than one jurisdiction now a much more significant risk. Although the European approach is considered more restrained, with the US taking an ever stronger approach to white collar crime, sentencing may not be restricted to one jurisdiction.”