Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Beneficial Finance Co. (Defendant), was convicted of bribing state banking officials in order to get preferential treatment from the Small Loans Regulatory Board, a state agency. The Defendant’s conviction was based upon acts taken by employees of the corporation who were neither officers nor directors within the corporation.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A corporation is criminally responsible for the unlawful actions of its employees acting within the scope of their authority in the particular business transaction determined to be illegal.
Issue. Is a corporation criminally liable for the unlawful actions of its employees acting within the scope of authority delegated to them by the corporation?
Held. Yes. Where a corporation has placed an employee in a position where he has authority to act for the corporation in the particular corporate business that is the subject of criminal prosecution, the corporation is itself liable for the violation of law. The title of an individual within a corporation should not be determinative of criminal responsibility. In fact, many low-level employees are entrusted with the responsibility of the everyday operations of the corporation. In this particular case, the disbursal of funds from the corporation to a state banking officials can be presumed to be a corporate act, as the individuals employees themselves could not be expected to bribe the officials out of their own pocket.
Where a conspiracy contemplates a continuity of purpose and a continued performance of acts, it is presumed to exist until there has been an affirmative showing that it has terminated; and its members continue to be conspirators until there has been an affirmative showing that they have withdrawn.View Full Point of Law