What constitutes misappropriation of a movable or property right by the management board of a capital company?

At the outset, it should be clarified that embezzlement is a qualified type of the misappropriation offense (Article 284 of the Criminal Code). Appropriation differs from classic theft in that there is no sign of taking things, because the perpetrator of this crime legally comes into possession of a movable thing or a property right.

Allegations of misappropriation against managers

For example, misappropriation may be related to the loan of an item or giving it for use in order to perform professional duties. However, attention should be paid to the qualified type of appropriation specified in Art. 284 paragraph 2 of the Penal Code, namely misappropriation, which is the appropriation of a movable item or a property right entrusted to a given person on the basis of trust. A greater criminal sanction, i.e. the threat of imprisonment from 3 months to 5 years (and in the case of property over PLN 200,000 or goods of particular importance to culture – from 1 to 10 years) is related to the abuse of trust between the person transferring the thing and the person to whom it was entrusted .

In the practice of economic life, there are often situations that make the accusation of embezzlement against top managers fully justified. An example of such situations is the action of the President of the Management Board consisting in the definitive inclusion of the Company’s belongings, such as a company laptop or a mobile phone, in his assets. It is a conscious treatment by the perpetrator of the thing entrusted by the Company as its own. In the civil law sense, this comes down to failure to meet the terms of the contract, the subject of which is a specific right to use this thing (see judgment II AKa 44/18 of March 21, 2018 of the Court of Appeal in Wrocław). Misappropriation specified in art. 284 § 2 k.k. should be understood as disposing of someone else’s movable or someone else’s property rights, excluding the entitled person, incorporating a legally owned someone else’s thing into the perpetrator’s property or taking actions that indicate that the perpetrator treats someone else’s thing as if he were its owner (see judgment II AKa 386 /18 of October 2, 2019 of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw). It may also be a criminal activity to spend money on a company credit card for small personal purposes, contrary to the terms of use. Therefore, the management of companies should pay special attention to their actions, so that in the event of contentious situations they are not exposed to allegations of misappropriation of the things entrusted to them. However, it should be emphasized that from the subjective point of view, the crime of misappropriation can only be committed intentionally – and the perpetrator legally comes into possession of the entrusted items.


Dr Artur Oleś

Attorney, Tax Advisor, EMBA

Advocate, Tax Advisor, Doctor of Juridical Science. He specializes in issues related to tax optimizations, mergers and acquisitions, as well as criminal and fiscal penal law. Author of scientific publications devoted to, among others. tax ordinance, VAT and income earned through incentive plans in the form of shares and stock options. He has extensive experience and knowledge of law and taxation.

Contact a specialist