The BGH (ruling dated May 18, 2021 - 1 StR 144/20) has confirmed its principles developed 20 years ago concerning donations made by Verkehrsbetriebe Reutlingen to the local soccer club (BGHSt 47, 187, 192 et seq.) and has applied them to (Bavarian) savings banks as commercial enterprises held by the public sector but managed according to stock corporation law. Based on this ruling, representational and good-corporate-citizen donations are permissible in principle. They are not readily punishable as embezzlement even if they violate applicable law, but only in the case of a serious breach of the asset management obligation under Section 266 of the German Criminal Code (StGB). However, this outward generosity does not apply internally: even minor benefits to its own (leading) employees and members of the municipal supervisory authority from funds of the savings bank are accordingly punishable as embezzlement.

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