University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series
Last Updated: 8 February 2013
The Race to Defraud: State Crime and the Immiseration of Indigenous People
Chris Cunneen, University of New South Wales
This paper was published in J. McCulloch and E.Stanley (eds), State Crime and Resistance, London: Routledge, pp. 99-113. This paper may also be referenced as  UNSWLRS 1.
Most analysis of state crime focuses on state violence – ranging from torture and terror through to genocide. This chapter is an exploration of state crime in the form of systematic state-sponsored fraud and related breaches of human rights. It derives from a more general project on the relationship between colonization in settler societies and state crime. Analysis of the ongoing effects of colonization on Indigenous populations reveals that one of the major factors in bringing about their contemporary immiseration has been the long-term and systematic exploitation of Indigenous labour. This exploitation occurred through the organized system of a racialized, state-controlled labour market which includes specific fraudulent misappropriation of money (including wages, trust funds and other payments). The specific example drawn upon in this chapter is the exploitation of Indigenous people in Australia. However, the defrauding and gross mismanagement of trust funds established by the state for the benefit of Indigenous peoples has been evident in other settler states such as the United States (US), where in 2009 there was a $3.4 billion settlement to a class action relating to the mismanagement of hundreds of thousands of American Indian trust accounts.