We are not all equal in the eyes of justice

We are not all equal in the eyes of justice

January 21, 2017 0 By Michel Santi

Might justice – or rather the deficiencies of justice – be about to destabilise the economic and financial system? Haven’t you noticed how the bosses of small businesses are ruthlessly pursued – sometimes to the point of harassment – while criminal justice scrambles to find legal justifications and motives when it has to deal with the case of “too big to fail”? It is, however, not the required qualifications of our legal practitioners, analysts, and other experts that are lacking. The Financial Markets Regulator and the specialists of the Monetary and Financial Code in France, like the United States Attorney’s Office, have often successfully analysed, investigated and untangled a number of complex affairs that were to do with the crucifying of small-fry businesses. One certainty, one observation: we are not all equal in the eyes of justice, and public powers do not treat us all the same. Which discourages future business creators and other small investors because a partial – arbitrary, even – justice system harms the very essence of the economy. As the cement of our society, equality in the eyes of the law represents the indispensable prerequisite for a healthy and balanced economic and financial climate. When prison is reserved only for the minnows and those who, well, “didn’t have a chance”, when the cause and effect link between crime and punishment is broken or even weakened, wrongdoing and deviousness are promoted to the ranks of normality.

Why be honest and why submit to the rules of the game when the chances of being penalised are reduced? Is it not understandable – or simply just human – that those who are tempted by crime follow this path when the sanction is consistently insufficient? And with devastating consequences since those who submit to the law are undeniably disadvantaged and weakened in an economy where ferocious competition rules. Why is it surprising in such a situation that the system’s participants and actors gradually alter their behaviour according to shifts in the “risk-reward” ratio? Isn’t this imbalance of justice a blessing for those who, violating the rules, are nevertheless lacking moral justification? Society in its entirety must then adapt to this new paradigm that teaches that it is “acceptable” to transgress the law. According to this same unwavering logic, the “too big to fail” businesses are considered to be too big to fail, or too important to be put in prison…

Doesn’t this very worrying pattern that challenges confidence in the system also demonstrate – implicitly – that the protection of money and interests comes before the protection of the citizens of society? It is a genuine exhortation launched in the direction of institutions (financial and other) and their management to form cartels, manipulate the prices of shares, goods and services, and swindle and scam, to the detriment of our economies’ stability. Even if this clemency is often questioned precisely in the name of economic and financial stability, our leaders are so scared of the consequences that the financial ruin of a bank could have, or the legal trial of a distinguished (economic or political) figure. What is the point of obeying laws and regulations if only the weakest and the least protected stand trial? When crime is legitimised, it is the State that loses all legitimacy. And it becomes impossible to reconstruct the financial system on the basis on which it relies and on which it can prosper: confidence.

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