Title: Beyond compliance: testing the limits of reforming the governance of Wall Street

Authors: Justin O'Brien

Addresses: Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research, Queen's University of Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK

Abstract: The malfeasance and misfeasance crises within corporate America have prompted a tripartite response from policymakers. Stringent legislation targeting somnambulant boards has been introduced; enforcement departments have been strengthened at the federal, state and self-regulatory bodies charged with overseeing the markets; the Department of Justice and the New York District Attorney|s Office have taken notably aggressive stances in the criminal prosecution of individual malefaction. This paper critically assesses the implications of the changes to the legislative, regulatory and criminal justice frameworks on the governance of Wall Street. Specifically, I deconstruct the rationale governing a plea-agreement entered into by Merrill Lynch in return for the temporary abeyance of criminal charges. The paper argues that this intervention, if implemented, has far-reaching consequences, effectively criminalising standard Wall Street practice.

Keywords: regulation; corporate governance; compliance; ethics; criminalisation; white collar crime; malfeasance; Wall Street.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBGE.2004.005252

International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, 2004 Vol.1 No.2/3, pp.162 - 174

Available online: 16 Sep 2004 *

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