How should an executive be punished for embezzlement?
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The answer to this is very similar to the answer to your other question about the appropriate punishment for someone who pollutes in violation of the Clean Water Act. Here, too, there is an economic and a moral issue.
Economically, the issue is once again clear. The embezzler should make whole anyone who has been harmed by his or her actions. The embezzler will have to reimburse the firm for the money that has been stolen. They will also need to reimburse anyone who has been harmed by the fact that the money was gone.
Once again, however, we cannot let it go at that. It does not seem just (or pragmatically effective) to say to someone “if you get caught while stealing money, the only consequence is that you have to give the money back.” If we did this, there would be no real incentive to refrain from stealing. Therefore, there must be further fines or jail time. The severity of the punishment ought to rest on how morally repugnant the crime was. In other words, the punishment should be lower if the embezzler was stealing to pay someone’s hospital bills than if the embezzler had been stealing just to enrich themselves.
Thus, the punishment has to compensate for the tangible damages done, but should also punish the embezzler further with punitive fines or incarceration.
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