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Optimal non-prosecution agreements and the reputational effects of convictions

Murat C. Mungan

International Review of Law and Economics, 2019, vol. 59, issue C, 57-64

Abstract: Many claim that non-prosecution agreements (NPAs) reduce deterrence by mitigating the reputational sanctions that would otherwise be imposed on corporations through plea-bargains. They suggest, based on this claim, that NPAs ought to be used infrequently. This article presents a signalling model wherein reputational sanctions emerge as a result of noisy signals produced through a firm's prosecution. It is shown that, if, as claimed, NPAs provide third parties with less information regarding a firm's wrongdoings, then firms would be willing to pay an NPA premium to avoid convictions. Thus, the NPA premium can be chosen to induce only those firms which would otherwise be over-deterred to accept NPAs. Therefore, offering NPAs with high premia is superior to the option of not using NPAs. The article also characterizes optimal NPAs, and identifies relationships between deterrence; frequency of NPA use; firms’ characteristics; and NPA terms. It explains how these relationships can be exploited to form and test hypotheses on whether convictions obtained through plea-bargains cause greater reputational harm to firms than NPAs.

Keywords: Reputational sanctions; Non-prosecution agreements; Deferred prosecution agreements; Deterrence; Over-deterrence (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2019.05.003

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