From The New York Times:
The use of deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, which began during the George W. Bush administration and has increased under President Obama, allows companies to avoid criminal charges if they pay substantial penalties, improve their compliance programs and cooperate with authorities. The companies do not plead guilty. They are not convicted of any crimes. They do not receive criminal sentences.
From 2004 through 2012, the Justice Department entered into 242 deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements with corporations; there had been just 26 in the preceding 12 years. The department’s criminal division now uses “noncriminal alternatives” in most of its settlements with corporations. From 2010 to 2012, the division reached twice as many deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements with corporations as there were plea agreements.
The government has offered various explanations for this lenient approach. In the case of JPMorgan, prosecutors reportedly were worried that a prosecution could imperil the company and its employees, just as charges against the accounting firm Arthur Andersen in 2002 for its role in the Enron scandal led to the collapse of the company, and thousands of job losses. But Andersen was exceptional; it could not survive as an accounting firm after its conviction for accounting fraud. Studies have shown that criminal prosecution is rarely a death penalty for a corporation.
Aren’t companies lucky! People campaign for them to have rights and they can spend money to influence elections but when it comes to the law they can’t be imprisoned and the “too big to fail” card gets them off prosecution.