The past few days have seen their fair share of high-profile ‘fessing up.

Confession 1: American track star Marion Jones admits using performance-enhancing drugs and will almost certainly be stripped of the five medals she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She will probably face a maximum of six months in jail for perjury, but that could be reduced to three months under a plea-bargain agreement with US federal agents. “I have let my country down, and I have let myself down. It is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you I have betrayed your trust,” she said, tearfully, last Friday.

Confession 2: Australian billionaire Richard Pratt is set to admit his involvement in the nation’s biggest cartel case as part of a settlement between his company, Visy, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. His guilty plea is expected to result in Visy paying a $30-40 million fine. “I was not involved in any of the detail of this supposed deal,” Mr Pratt told The Australian today, claiming he was caught unwittingly in the case by approving the actions of his senior executives without knowing details of the price-fixing and market-sharing deal they had agreed with Amcor.

Hang on a minute … an athlete who admits to drug use which harms no-one else ends up in jail, while a stupendously rich businessman who admits to rigging one of the biggest markets in Australia — a crime which probably increased the price most Australians paid for almost every consumer good — gets a relatively mild fine and continues to deny his own personal involvement.

Respectability in the world of white collar crime comes damn cheap if Richard Pratt’s enhanced performance is any example.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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