Recently, the government has found out that the biggest medical corporation (responsible for plenty of technological progress) has been financing and providing material aid to an organization responsible for multiple attacks and thousands of deaths.

This is a futuristic world so, thanks to this company, people live longer, a lot of diseases are taken care of, prosthetics working like natural limbs exist, nerve-related problems like paraplegia can be fixed... Needless to say the company are viewed as a saviour and as philanthropist.

Also, this government rules a sort of interplanetary federation so there is room for secret activities and secret facilities on remote planets.

Due to the large amount of money this company has, it has a private security force, but it can not rival against a full size army. This security would be enough to delay an assault on a facility, but the outcome of an assault would always be in favour of the government.

The terrorism funding needs to be possible, whatever the means. After finding this out, the government will be watching the company's payments closely.

The terrorist group in question is a small group of very competent fighters looking to expose government corruption and bad actions. They are extremely good at keeping themselves concealed.

The funding decision is only known by the CEO and very few highly ranked executives, who are secretly part of the terrorist organization. Most of the company do not know about this. In fact, there is a whole branch dedicated to helping these terrorists, but it kept very secret and it's highly protected by the security force.

The connection between the company and the terrorist group has been discovered by a highly placed governor whose shady plans have been thwarted by the terrorists. Therefore, he is trying to use his power to destroy the terrorists by any means, hence his focus on the funding. He also found out that the CEO is part of the organization (he is the leader of it but it remains unknown), but he has not found out anything about the complicit executives. Therefore, if the CEO is not in power anymore, he can still manage things from the outside thanks to the help of these executives.

The government is a corrupt democracy, but the corruption remains unknown to the public. In fact, it's the terrorists' goal to expose this corruption and use of dirty tactics. Since the government wants to keep a good image, if the public were to find out about the governor's shady plans, he would definitely lose his job, hence his determination to bring the terrorists and the funding down.

How could the government not prevent a medical company from helping terrorists?

  • $\begingroup$ Cost-benefit analysis. Your second paragraph gives the answer. Most likely, they'll simply assassinate some members of the management involved to send a message and call it a day $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:36
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ So, you have a very important medical company with far-future tech that can potentially bribe politicians everywhere by giving them and their family access to highly advanced medicine/medical help in cases where they need it. And you need a reason for politicians to turn a blind eye to this company making more money by potentially killing a few thousand civilians at the other end of the galaxy... Where exactly is the problem? $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ So, the government want to do something, but refuse to close the company? in other worlds, punish the company without harming it? $\endgroup$
    – Kepotx
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ... I really don't see the problem. The politician can just publicly tell that this guy is a terrorist and have him removed. Or he lets somebody assassinate the guy to not have his own name in the news. And if you need a reason for him being unable to hire an assassin: the CEO blackmails him by threatening to cancel his wives heart transplantation. Or the CEO blackmails the assassin. Or the people in charge of the army. And all of these options seem equally valid to me. What criteria are there to determine which answers are better than others? $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This question is extremely opinion based. Valid answers range from bribery to government incompetence, with nothing to determine that an answer is better than another. $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:48

5 Answers 5


Because the crime was by one or a few individuals. Or...

A company is not an agent. A company is not a person with a plan and a will. Crimes are committed by persons, not companies. Only persons can be found guilty of a crime.

Hence a company cannot commit a crime. Instances when you hear a company being dragged before a court it is always civil proceedings and never criminal proceedings.

If one or a few persons are found to have funnelled company assets into terrorist causes, then those persons will be charged of that crime. These persons will then — of course — be fired from the company, and the company's lawyers will seek to get the stolen money back from them.

The point is: a company does not act. People act, and thus people get charged for committing crimes, not companies.

"But what if the CEO was in on it?"

Then the board of directors fire the CEO and seek damages from them.

"But what if all of the board of directors were in on it?"

Then there will be a shareholder's meeting where they appoint a new board of directors, and seek damages from the board of directors.

"But what if everyone was in on it?!"

Then all of the assets of the company will be confiscated by the government, since the government can confiscate assets of convicted criminals if those assets have been used in criminal activity. These assets will then be auctioned out. Someone can buy the company assets and restructure the company, with a new board of directors.

"But I really want a criminal company, and that the government knows it!"

Ok fine... if your really want to disable the boring legal stuff that prevents you from making a spicy story, then the answer is: jurisdiction.

As I explained in this answer: jurisdiction is a hairy issue when you are out planet-hopping. If you thought that catching criminals and getting them extradited was tricky on Earth — with hostile nations granting immunity to wanted criminals (*) — it is going to be a right tangled mess out in space when things are spread out over different planets.

Or — even better — what if CrimeInSpace Crop. does not even reside on a planet but their entire operation is mobile, on large factory ships. There simply is no jurisdiction that can touch them.

One final note...

If the company is out in truly lawless territory... then so is the government in question, and it is only accountability towards the constituents ("That has to be approved by Congress!") that prevents them from sending a hit-squad towards the company.

If the company is sheltered in another jurisdiction however, then it becomes trickier because the government has to respect the sovereignty of other nations.

(*) Leon Klinghoffer was murdered during the Achille Lauro hijacking in 1985


It cannot be shutdown or reigned in simply because it is too big to fail. Sure, the medical company is providing aid to an organization that has caused thousands of deaths, but the company is also providing aid that is preventing millions of deaths.

If it were to suddenly close, who would take over care of the patients? Make the prescription medicine? Run the hospitals? Maintain the prosthetic limbs? Finish the research on groundbreaking cures that were just around the corner?

And of course, if the government suddenly shut them down or tried disrupting their moneymaking operations the company's public relations team would have a field day running attack ads against whoever was responsible. No honest politician would want to be seen as the evil person who took away grandma's medicine, and no corrupt politician would want their dirty secrets broadcast across the world.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The thing is, the government is not exactly honest about elections and all. It's very shady and corrupt, but it remains unknown to the public and people who claim the government is corrupt are seen as conspirationist, or are silenced (by any means) if they are a serious threat. $\endgroup$
    – Hawker65
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Hawker65: Just added a bit more to cover that. Basically, no honest politician wants people to think they're evil, and no corrupt politician wants people to know they're evil. $\endgroup$
    – Giter
    Aug 14, 2018 at 14:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, if your shady government is run by crooked and entrenched old people, they may rely on the MediCorp to provide medicine/care to keep them alive - they then have a vested interest in keeping the company running in some form (probably while trying to get their own people put in charge) $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2018 at 15:44

Q: Why would you not blow up a road terrorists are using?
A: The road will still be useful after terrorists are gone.

The same applies here. The medical devices produced by this company are not terror devices. They are helpful. Ordinary people have jobs here. The company and its income are being used as a front / financing by terrorists. The terrorists need to go, not the company or income.

Just as when the government takes over a failing school it does not blow up the school, when the government decides to oust the terrorists from leadership of this company it will do so gently and retain all functional and useful structures. Many managers and certainly the rank and file working here are not terrorists. The board of directors (if a public company) are probably not terrorists either. Third-in-command will be the interim chief and new outside CEO will be recruited.

Business as usual for big business. The company will have a gentle leadership change under the direction of the government. CEOs get ousted all the time, with some plausible reason being offered up to the public. Probably the real reason is political, or the CEO is a drunk, or some major stockholders got pissed, or the CEO is a terrorist.


So, it seems that the government want do something against a company that became too powerful, and can't simply close it, not only because it's too powerfull but because it's beneficial to the society.

This has already happen in history. The best way to deal with it is to split the company. Let's take two historical examples:

  • Standard Oil: SO become too big, with a monopoly over oil industry. The USA government made it split into 34 diferent companies
  • Zaibatsu: Zaibatsu were japanese industrial and financial business conglomerates, that had lot of power until post-WW2. Mitshubishi for example was one of the "Big Four" Zaibatsu. They were basically everywhere, in all sectors. They had great influence in WW2 (for example, Mitshubishi sold opium in china, produce A6M "Zero", develop Manchoukouo...) during american occupation, it was decided to dissolve them, so there was split into smaller entities.

Your case is similar: too much influence, and to big to simply close it. Split it so it's still there, but much less powerful, and you can have better control over it.

  • $\begingroup$ The problem is, by splitting them, the public will lose a lot since the products will not be as available as before since the production power has been divided. Plus, it will probably be complicated since these technologies are only mastered by the company and they legally restricted the production of these products. Basically, only this company can produce these products. $\endgroup$
    – Hawker65
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Hawker65 it wasn't harder to buy oil after SO split-up. And for patent, knowledge and such, the company was probably already split internaly between domains(prosthetics, mind illness, surgery...). All you have to do is made them separate entity, but they should continue to work $\endgroup$
    – Kepotx
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ Any idea of what might happen to the old board of directors? $\endgroup$
    – Hawker65
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:18

Could be any of the following explanation, or a combination of them.

  • Government takes bribes from the company
  • Company convinces everybody that aid to terrorists came from a "few bad apples", i.e. a small group of employees that do not represent the entire company
  • Company is too important, both for medical innovation, and manufacturing of medical drugs and equipment, and employing the thousands of people. The management of the company is jailed, along with whoever knew about terrorists, but the rest of the company continues to operate under new management (and increased government oversight). They could break the company up, and sell its facilities to other medical companies, but the goal will be to preserve the research and manufacturing operations, since they take a lot of time and money to set up properly.

Edit due to updated question So the premise is that your protagonist found about terrorist funding, but broader government does not want to do anything about it? The reasons above still apply, but here are some more reasons.

  • Government might be waiting for legally acceptable proof. If your protagonist obtained proof through illegal means, it is not admissible in court. From gov't perspective, your guy could be one criminal trying to get rid of another.

  • Some faction in government benefits from terrorists, e.g. as justification for military spending, or b/c terrorists are "enemy of my enemy". US, Soviet Union, Iran have all sponsored terrorist groups that targeted their enemies.

Now for what your guy can do:

  • Cut off financing - requires access to banking authorities.
  • Expose the whole thing, in press if evidence is too weak courts.
  • Blackmail the CEO or whoever is giving money to terrorists.
  • $\begingroup$ You might want to edit your answer. Sorry, but I made a lot of edits to clarify some questions. $\endgroup$
    – Hawker65
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:17

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .