Report No. 29
Economic crimes in Poland are dealt with in the "Small Criminal Code" of 1946, Chapter III (Articles 39-45) and other special laws2. A brief summary of important provisions is given below:-
|Article 39||Adversely affecting the level of production, or lowering the productivity of an individual's own work or that of subordinate personnel, or for dereliction of duty either in taking proper care of the technical equipment of the enterprise, of its raw materials, or produced goods or causing deterioration of equipment or wastage of raw materials for goods. (Punishment up to 15 years imprisonment).
Under the amendment of Decree of 4th March, 1953 (penalties for Marketing of Goods of defective quality), penalties for introducing into distribution goods unfit for consumption or of inferior quality compared with official standards have been enhanced.
|Article 40||Diverting to a free market of goods assigned for distribution through Government stores. (Punishment up to 15 years' imprisonment).
Unintentional transgression by failure to exercise proper control and supervision is a lesser offence. (Punishment up to 5 years' imprisonment).
|Article 41||Offences against the planned distribution of goods, whether committed with criminal intent or without intent. (Punishment up to 15 years' imprisonment).|
|Article 42||Wilful or constant failure by the manager of an enterprise to take proper care of the welfare of subordinate personnel, thus adversely affecting their interests. (Punishment up to 5 years' imprisonment).|
|Decree of March 4, 1953||Section 1 of Article 1 of the Decree is quoted below:-|
|Decree for protection of Buyer's Interest in Trade)||"Whoever speculates with articles of everyday consumption or other goods, in particular by buying up goods in establishments or other places of retail with the purpose of selling them for profit; hides or hoards goods of everyday3consumption, with such purpose in excessive amounts charges prices in such establishments, for any goods, thus gaining excessive profit in cases in which there is no properly fixed price; or by any action contributes to difficulties in retailing goods, conducted deliberately with speculative purposes shall be punished by detention (maximum 5 years) and fine or by imprisonment up to five years and fine." (Under Article 1, section 2 of this decree, punishment for habitually engaging in speculation for repeated conviction is imprisonment from 2 to 10 years and fine.)|
|Two decrees of March 4, 1953, concerning strengthening of the protection of socialist property and concerning the protection of socialist property against petty theft (both amended by the Decree of December 23, 1954).||Under Article 1, section 1 of the first Decree, stealing, appropriating, obtaining without intent to pay or in any way seizing socialist goods is punishable by imprisonment up to 5 years. On a second conviction, imprisonment up to 10 years can be awarded under section 2. In aggravating circumstances, the theft of socialist property is punishable by imprisonment up to 10 years and not less than 2 years, under section 3. If the offender has caused major damage to the economic interest or the defence of the State, the punishment cannot be less than 5 years' imprisonment and even imprisonment for life can be awarded.|
|Decree of March 28, 1952||Offences against foreign currency regulations can be punished with imprisonment up to 15 years or even for life, and there are provisions for a minimum sentence of 2 or 5 years' imprisonment.|
|Article 286, Penal Code of 1932||Abuse of power. (This has been now widely interpreted as covering not only cases of dishonesty, but as also including negligence and lack of foresight.)|
For several offences, including many economic crimes, "Summary Criminal
Proceedings" are permissible under the Polish law, and these offences include crimes committed to the detriment of the State, public authorities, institutions of a public character, co-operatives, enterprises owned or managed by the State or public authorities, and other criminal acts which endanger the economic interests of the People's Republic or expose it to considerable losses. For these offences, death sentence or imprisonment for life can be awarded4, (irrespective of the punishment prescribed in the statute relating to the particular crime5).
1. The position as in 1960 has been stated here. Thereafter, there was movement for reform, but material about that could not be obtained.
2. Summarised from material in G & G Government Law, etc., in Soviet Union, p. 1064 et seq.
3. In a case decided on 14th March, 1950 on the previous section-Article 10 section 1 of Law of June 4, 1957 on High Prices, etc., the Supreme Court explained that a person buying up or hoarding goods in excess of his normal needs was guilty.
4. See G & G Government Law, etc., in the Soviet Union, p. 1073, Item (b) and 1074, middle.
5. Law of November 16, 1956 (amended in 1949) on summary proceeding in criminal courts.