Originally founded by Marlin Duval, who led the colonization of the Achenar system in the mid 23rd century, the Empire is based on a “cliens” system much like ancient Rome.
Society is strictly stratified, with people being able to move between strata based on money, patronage and influence.
The Empire values both status and honour very highly indeed. So, whilst it is acceptable to flaunt wealth, treating people well is a question of honour – and this includes slaves. Having an unpaid debt is seen as utterly dishonourable – an honourable Imperial citizen would sell themselves into slavery to clear a debt they couldn’t otherwise afford.
Law is seen and enforced very differently in the Empire. Senators are responsible for enforcing the Emperor’s laws, but the Senators themselves are above the law. They can order executions, and can even kill people themselves, though sometimes (rarely) they may be held to account for their actions by the Emperor.
In the Empire very little is illegal, but many things are frowned upon, like excessive use of narcotics.