As The New York Timesreported onWednesday, in the past few years, the Justice Department has increasinglyrelied on deferred prosecutions and secretive monitoring agreements, insteadof criminal prosecutions, for major corporations accused of fraud andcorruption.

News? Not to our readers. We’ve been following this trend for more than a year. In our Fall 2007 litigation supplementwe reported that after a string of defeats, includingnumerous acquittals and convictions reversed on appeal, the Bushadministration in the last two years has slammed the brakes on its prosecution of corporate crime. Extensive analysis of more than five years’ worth of corporate fraud cases revealed 357 indictments between 2002 and 2005; only 14 of those were deemed significant by Justice in 2006. By August 2007, when we published our report, only 12 major corporate fraud cases had been indicted so far that year. (Our corporate fraud database includes corporations that reached deferred prosecution agreements.)

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