The branch head of one German bank received a 22-month sentence for transferring more than €7.6 million from the accounts of her bank’s rich customers to those held by poorer customers in need of financial help, The UK Guardian reports.
Though the banker could have faced a four-year prison sentence, the court was lenient because she had confessed immediately and did not profit personally.
The woman was accused of allowing overdrafts for customers who would not normally qualify for them and then using funds from more affluent customers to temporarily disguise the loans during the bank's monthly audit of overdrafts.
"Customers asked me if I could help them. They couldn't get credit in a conventional way," the woman told the court, adding that she found her actions unbelievable now.
"I can't understand it any more. I must have had helper syndrome."
The woman’s attorney said she had acted “purely out of sympathy with people who were suffering financially.”
The judge said: "It's difficult to find an appropriate punishment here. On the one hand we have big losses. But on the other hand we have here this altruistic behaviour, which makes the case very different from the norm."
The bank has not released the name of the employee, who is already being referred to as “Die Robin Hood Bankerin" by the German press.
The U.S. Congress is considering ways to reduce bank overdraft fees, which the Federal Reserve recently banned for ATM and debit card transactions unless customers have opted in to the service.
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