Unlike most other commercial criminal law offences, offences against property, for example, fraud in accordance with section 263 of the Criminal Code and its forms such as subsidy fraud (section 264), investment fraud (section 264a) and credit fraud (section 265b), are not regulated by ancillary laws, but in the Criminal Code itself, that is to say systematically under general criminal law. These offences still play a central role in criminal prosecution in the business world.
This applies in particular for the offence of breach of trust (section 266), which has great risk potential for criminal prosecution because of its blurred lines, not only for those in positions of responsibility in business, but also for those who deal with public funds.
In recent years, breach of trust offences have been the focus of many high court decisions, for example sponsoring payments (SSV Reutlingen), centralised cash management in companies (Bremer Vulkan), risky entrepreneurial deals (Mannesmann) and the establishment of black accounts in the private and public sectors(Siemens, CDU donation scandal). The high point of this development so far has been the Landowsky-Decision of the Federal Constitutional Court of 23 June 2010. In this decision the highest German court allowed the constitutional complaint of five former board members of the BerlinHyp AG concerning their sentence for breach of trust in lending matters. The court made a "powerful landmark decision on the constitutionality of law on breach of trust and its interpretation " (Saliger, ZIS 2011, 902). One of the five appellants has been defended by our colleague Venn through the trial and appeal stages.
The partners have been involved in a series of continuing, extensive breach of trust trials. Most recently there was media coverage of the trial concerning the credit derivative deals of the municipal water works of Leipzig and the defence of the executive management in the "VW Affair" (both by Dr Pananis).