The kinds of crimes these executives commit generally fall into one of two categories. In the first case, CEOs mean to profit directly from their actions, including offenses such as insider trading and embezzlement.
In most other cases of executive white-collar crime, however, CEOs are not stealing directly from their companies. Instead, they are trying to ensure the safety of their jobs by promoting the appearance of success of their companies through fraud, false accounting and bribery, among others. In seven of the 10 cases, executives inflated company profits or failed to represent gains or liabilities. In nearly every case, the CEO was in league with other executives, many of whom were also charged and convicted.
The irony is that while these corporate leaders were trying to make their companies look better, they usually succeeded only in putting them through a period of severe financial hardship. In several cases, the financial revelations were so severe that they caused total bankruptcy. In a few cases, the company continued to perform well, despite the crimes.
This article originally appeared on 24/7 Wall St. on May 17, 2012.