The most important step in the study of problems of economic crime was the work of criminologist, Edwin Sutherland, who was the first to undertake a systematic study of crime corporations. The criminological concept created by him had a powerful ideological influence on the subsequent choice of ways of understanding of the actual problem. In his concept, the attention was focused on the new fact that the subjects of the most dangerous economic crimes are persons occupying high social positions in the business, who commit crimes in the course of professional work in the interests of legal entities and self-interest. Sutherland introduced a scientific term white-collar crime that accurately reflects the feature of his conception.
Sutherland pointed that such individuals occupy high positions in society and use it for the purpose of abuse of trust. Most of the definitions of white-collar crime, formulated after Sutherland, contain such signs of a crime as fraud and breach of trust.
The fifth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (1975) said that white collar crime is among the most dangerous. The main features of the crime were formulated that include the following: the implementation of criminal activity for the purpose of economic gain; connection with certain forms of organization; usage of professional or official activity; high social status of the subjects of the crime; possession of political power. Later in the western criminological literature, a turn to less restrictive formulation of the concept of white-collar crime is used, so that it becomes less critical with regard to a certain social stratum.
Gradually, the concept of white-collar crime is transformed and becomes a special case of economic crime. Such an understanding of economic crime in the 1980’s formed the basis of accepted among US experts a so-called quadripartite typology of the nature of economic crime: the individual economic crime, abuse of trust, a crime in the business world, and fraud.
In practice, the approach to the definition of economic crime as a white-collar crime continues to be used (it refers to crimes of big corporations, businessmen or officials), although the boundaries of this phenomenon are understood wider than that of Sutherland. For example, according to the position of the US Department of Justice, white-collar crime is a wrongful act committed to obtain money, property or services associated with the use of deception (but without the use of violence or threat of violence), evasion or reaching benefits for your business or for yourself. Representatives of this category of criminals are vested with trust and hold positions in government, industry, trade unions and other civil organizations.
The most important step in the study of problems of economic crime was the work of criminologist, Edwin Sutherland, who was the first to undertake a systematic study of crime corporations. The criminological concept created by him had a powerful ideological influence on the subsequent choice of ways of understanding of the actual problem.