LETTER: Hold executives, not companies, accountable
Only individuals can commit acts of corruption, while punishing companies hurts the innocent
I have an issue with Athol Williams’s stance over companies being held accountable (“Company that committed ‘terrible crimes’ gets sacred place in heart of business”, January 18).
A company is a set of registration documents and cannot commit a crime. Only individuals can commit acts of corruption. Such crimes are in the main planned, sanctioned and executed by management, directors and board members.
When you fine a company you are punishing shareholders, investors and innocent staff members, who may lose bonuses or be retrenched. Pensioners, via pension fund investments, lose investment capital.
In the Markus Jooste and Steinhoff situation, it appears that what happened there was orchestrated by Jooste as well as complicit directors and board members. I have not heard a single call for Jooste not to be held to account because the responsibility was in fact Steinhoff’s, not his. There will be blood on the streets if Jooste does not end up in court and jail.
I am all for responsible individuals being hounded out of the corporate world. In fact, the first port of call for recovering the losses should be these executives. They have become rich from the proceeds of crime, so every cent they own should be confiscated.
All of them should be declared delinquent directors for life and their professional bodies should strike them from their books, never to practise in that space again. There should be no mercy for these criminals. who have robbed the poorest of the poor of services and a future.
Fining companies while the executives walk away intact serves little purpose as a future deterrent.
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