Can a crime be committed if there is no criminal to commit it? According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the answer to that Zen koan is apparently "yes." The SEC collected a $50 million settlement from GE Capital after concluding that the corporation "misled investors" by committing accounting and bank fraud, but then apparently decided that no individuals were responsible.
GE has been one of corporate America's worst repeat offenders, with a long history of settlements and guilty pleas. Its behavior in this case casts a spotlight on the world of "shadow banking," where institutions can behave like banks without being banks. That's another koan-like statement, and it's a very convenient one that lets them avoid a lot of oversight and regulation.
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