Malfeasance in Office: What You Need to Know

Malfeasance in Office

Misfeasance is a type of misbehavior that happens when a public servant, official, or entity acts in a way that intentionally and knowingly causes injury or loss to a third party.

For instance, this might occur by causing someone to suffer a personal injury, financial loss, or harm to their reputation.

What Is a Malfeasance?

Malfeasance refers to blatant sabotage when one of the parties to a contract intentionally causes harm with their actions. A person who suffers harm as a result of misconduct may file a civil lawsuit and receive compensation. There is rarely a consensus on the precise definition of misconduct, making it challenging to prove in court.

Malfeasance is a crime under common law.

Code of Virginia, § 19.2-8: Statute of Limitations for Criminal Prosecution

The relevant section of VA Code § 19.2-8 states that the prosecution of nonfelonious actions that amount to malfeasance in office must begin within two years of the offense.

Understanding Malfeasance

Officers or important personnel of a firm may commit both serious and small crimes; this is known as corporate malfeasance. These offenses could include purposeful acts against the company or neglecting to fulfill obligations and follow relevant legal requirements.

Corporate misbehavior can cause major issues for a nation’s economy or industry. As corporate wrongdoing increases, nations implement more legislation and preventative measures, leading to a decrease in global crime rates.

Misconduct can lead to damages for a party, but proving it in court can be challenging, costly, and time-consuming. Malfeasance is not the same as misfeasance, which is the incorrect performance of a duty or action.

Misfeasance is the term for an inadvertent deed. On the other hand, malfeasance is the deliberate and purposeful act of causing harm. Nonfeasance refers to the failure to take any action to prevent harm or damage from occurring.

Malfeasance in Office: Which Actions End in Misfeasance?

This offense encompasses various offenses, including deliberate abuses of power, malicious use of power, and disregard for public responsibility. This felony can include the commission of fraud, deceptions, intentional physical harm, incarceration, or injury to an individual. To aid in your understanding, consider these few examples:

  • A police officer has treated someone else with deliberate dismissal.
  • A public servant has behaved violently or hostilely toward an outsider.
  • One inmate has received unwanted sexual advances from a jail guard.

Malfeasance in Office: Instances of Corporate Malfeasance


Enron Corporation revealed a $618 million quarterly loss in October 2001. On the recommendation of its auditor, the Arthur Andersen firm, Enron was using creative accounting to conceal large financial losses. It was determined that the company had destroyed papers containing information that implicated it in advising and auditing Enron.1.

It is a major offense to release false financial statements and to plan to obstruct justice by concealing or destroying records. Despite Enron’s financial difficulties, management portrayed the company’s shares to staff members and general public investors as having a promising future. Executives sold their shares when the stock hit high values.

With full awareness of the looming financial disaster, then-president Jeffrey Skilling profited over $62 million from his Enron stock, sparing himself millions of dollars when the stock price crashed. Securities fraud is when someone lies about a company’s financial situation to get money from the sale of stock.


Both Tyco’s chief financial officer (CFO) and chief executive officer (CEO) faced allegations in 2002 of using corporate embezzlement to pay for their opulent lifestyles. The executives misled shareholders out of millions of dollars by using corporate funds to buy opulent residences, extravagant vacations, and pricey jewelry.


Bernie Madoff used the investment company he founded as a Ponzi scheme to cheat investors out of billions of dollars in 2008. Over several decades, his company raised capital from affluent global investors.4 As one of the most notable instances of financial misconduct in US history, Madoff’s case still stands.


The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Goldman Sachs Group of securities fraud in April 2010 for neglecting to reveal that John Paulson, a hedge fund investor, selected the bonds that backed a collateralized debt obligation (CDO) that Goldman marketed to its customers.

Paulson selected the CDO because he intended to buy credit default swaps for himself to short the bonds aggressively, believing they would default. Because there were more assets available for investors to bet against, the production and selling of synthetic CDOs increased investor losses and made the financial crisis worse than it otherwise would have been. Investors lost $1 billion on the CDO, but Paulson received $1 billion for his swaps.

FAQs on Malfeasance in Office:

For misbehavior, who is accountable?

An auditor commits misfeasance if he does his job improperly and causes the company to suffer a financial loss. In such a situation, the corporation may sue the auditor or any executive for damages due to a breach of trust or corporate malfeasance.

What is deliberate wrongdoing?

Misfeasance is the deliberate, improper, or purposeful giving of erroneous guidance or actions. Malfeasance is defined as a purposeful and deliberate activity that causes harm to a third party.

What does intentional wrongdoing mean?

The deliberate disobedience of ethical standards that an employer has a right to expect is known as deliberate misconduct. BR-106310 (7/16/08) (Key) (claimant’s careless neglect to examine a catheter, regardless of the seriousness of the error, does not lead to disqualification).

What constitutes gross misconduct?

Erroneous behavior is often defined as deliberate behavior with knowledge of breaking the law, either by deed or omission. Beyond a tolerable degree of error, an action is considered egregious behavior in a legal setting.

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