A German Robin Hood Bank Worker Sentenced for Shifting Funds From Rich to Poor

A bank worker who shifted money from the accounts of well-off customers to help cover the overdrafts of poorer ones has been sentenced in Germany. The media are describing the woman, who took no money for herself and is now repaying €1.1 million from a tiny pension, as a female Robin Hood.

A scheme by a generous bank manager to help poorer clients avoid overdraft fees has gone awry.
bonn.press/ DDP

A scheme by a generous bank manager to help poorer clients avoid overdraft fees has gone awry.


The standard tale of Robin Hood is of a man who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. In a modern twist on the tale, a former manager of a German bank branch was given a 22-month suspended sentence Monday at a court in Bonn for moving money temporarily from the accounts of well-off customers to those of poor ones.

The 62-year-old woman, who has not been publicly identified, was charged with 117 counts of misappropriation. She was accused of granting overdrafts to customers who did not qualify for them and covering up her actions by shifting money into their accounts whenever the bank carried out its monthly overdraft audits. In doing so, she prevented the poorer clients from having their accounts shut down.

The state prosecutor's office in Bonn said she shifted a total of €7.6 million ($11.3 million) from richer to poorer customers over a period of 14 months. The woman, who did not take a cent for herself, could have faced up to four years in prison.

She tried to transfer the money back once the audits were over, but that wasn't always possible because some of the poorer customers had run up ever-increasing overdrafts. As a result, she was only able to transfer back €6.5 million of the €7.6 million she had siphoned off.

The woman has now joined the ranks of the poor she once tried to protect. She is living in a small apartment with her ailing mother. The bulk of her meager early retirement pension is being withheld to cover her €1.1 million debt to the bank.

jtw -- with wire reports

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