Some of the crimes cause so much damage that even billions of dollars can’t make up for it. Such crimes have a long history in history, and they have been heavily punished by government authorities and courts. The government imposed large criminal fines for breaking the law, creating environmental damage, causing disasters, claiming life, invading private information, unlawful marketing, and other serious wrongdoings that cost the perpetrators billions of dollars. Let’s take a look at the top ten criminal fines in history.
1. TEPCO – $450 Billion
Following the Fukushima tragedy in 2011, critics criticised the energy firm for a lack of safety precautions for such an incident. Later that year, the court acquitted three TEPCO executives of a criminal case of carelessness. TEPCO, on the other hand, was hit with compensation claims totaling 5 trillion yen (£330 billion).
The Fukushima nuclear accident, which occurred in 2011, was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. An earthquake and tsunami sparked the tragedy, resulting in three nuclear reactor meltdowns and three hydrogen explosions that released radioactive pollution from various units. As a result, a vast region near the nuclear power facility was evacuated.
The Fukushima nuclear power plant was built, planned, and operated in collaboration with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and General Electric. Following the accident, many accused the company for negligence and a disorganized reaction.
TEPCO’s chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, and two others were charged with professional negligence. According to the panel, despite being aware of the potential of a tsunami near the Fukushima nuclear power plant, these three executives did not take preventative precautions.
However, in 2019, a Japanese court exonerated TEPCO’s three executives from a criminal negligence prosecution. The firm was forced to pay a $450 billion penalty as a result of different lawsuits brought by 12,000 people who fled due to radiation and class-action lawsuits filed by persons seeking compensation from the government.
2. British Petroleum – $64 billion
The greatest marine oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 stretched around 60,000 square miles and spilled into the water for months. In 2016, BP was forced to pay more than $15 billion for the worst industrial environmental disaster in US history. Their penalty finally surpassed $64 billion as a result of rulings made by the US Justice Department.
On April 20, 2010, a huge explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people and spilled over 4 million barrels of oil. The oil from the damaged Macondo well, located 70 miles off the coast of Louisiana, continued to flow for 87 days until it was ultimately controlled on July 12.
During this three-month period, the oil has already coated 1,000 miles of coastline in six states and more than 40,000 square miles of Gulf of Mexico. This was the greatest marine oil spill in history, as well as the worst industrial environmental disaster in US history.
British Petroleum (BP) paid a high price for this environmental devastation; they were fined more than $60 billion for cost-cutting and risk-taking practices that resulted in the spill. The business reached a $64 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice, which included criminal and civil penalties, economic claims, natural resource damages, and cleaning charges.
3. Volkswagen – $34.69 billion
Volkswagen was punished with a massive punishment of about $14 billion in 2015 for modifying cars to evade pollution tests, which was increased to more than $30 billion by 2020. The United States imposed civil and criminal fines as a result of the emissions scandal.
Volkswagen, a well-known German automaker, acknowledged in 2015 that it had created 11 million cars that were outfitted with software known as “defeat devices,” which were meant to cheat emission testing.
This device altered the performance of the car during testing to improve results. The firm was detected concealing large volumes of hazardous fuel. Thousands of cars were recalled all around the world, including 1.2 million diesel vehicles in the United Kingdom. There were 393,450 Audis, 508,276 Volkswagens, 131,569 Skodas, 79,838 Volkswagen commercial vehicles, and 76,773 seats.
Because people are concerned about climate change, this controversy was bad news for the automotive business. The US Department of Justice has accused Volkswagen with around $14 billion in civil and criminal fines. By 2020, the business had spent more than $30 billion in fines and settlements as a result of the emissions issue.
4. Bank of America – $17 billion
During the 2008 financial crisis, banks were scrutinized for questionable transactions. Banks were making loans to people who had little prospect of repaying them. These financial practices contributed to the economic downturn but were not prohibited. Bank of America, on the other hand, had to pay a whopping $17 billion fine.
The financial crisis of 2007-2009 was a massive economic and financial collapse that cost people their life savings, houses, and jobs. During the crisis, new regulatory agencies were established, and banks were scrutinized for questionable dealings.
Cheap loans and poor lending criteria were the primary causes of this disaster. Financial institutions held trillions of dollars in investments with little chance of repayment, such as a subprime loan. Millions of American homeowners owing more on their debts than their homes were worth.
Barack Obama described the banking activities that led to the economy’s catastrophe as “immoral, inappropriate, and reckless,” but because they were not criminal, they were tough to punish.
Later, all of the banks involved in the crisis paid a massive fine. In 2014, Bank of America paid $17 billion, JP Morgan $13 billion, and BNP Paribas $8.9 billion. Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and HSBC Holdings were also fined heavily for money laundering, tax evasion, retail abuses, and rate manipulation.
5. Deutsche Bank – $10 billion
Deutsche Bank was fined $2.5 billion in 2015 for its role in an interest-rate fraud that spanned from 2003 to 2007. Authorities in the United Kingdom and the United States charged the bank with manipulating interest rates. Between 2005 and 2007, the bank also agreed to pay $7.2 billion in settlements for selling defective mortgage-backed securities to investors.
Deutsche Bank, a major German bank, paid $2.5 billion in 2015 for its role in the interest rate scheme between 2003 and 2007. Its secondary bank in London pleaded guilty to criminal wire fraud and was accused of manipulating interest rates such as Libor, which was used to charge large loans and contracts all over the world.
According to British banking authorities, around 29 Deutsche Bank personnel were implicated in this interest-rate scam. US regulators ordered the bank to terminate seven workers who were involved in the scam, including directors and vice presidents.
Between 2005 and 2007, Deutsche Bank was also accused of selling faulty mortgage-backed securities to investors, for which they paid a whopping $7.2 billion in a 2017 settlement with the United States Department of Justice.