Börse Express – WDH / ROUNDUP: Wirecard Committee in Berlin

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BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – The former boss of the scandal company Wirecard
, Markus Braun, is to testify on Thursday in the Bundestag investigative committee about the accounting fraud. The MPs want to ask the ex-manager about his contacts with politics and authorities. It is considered unlikely that he will comment on possible criminal machinations and the specific allegations of fraud by the public prosecutor. Witnesses don’t have to incriminate themselves. Braun is considered one of the main people responsible for the fraud scandal in which Wirecard is said to have booked billions in bogus transactions for years.

The committee wants to discover whether the German fintech company, as an up-and-coming star on the stock exchange, was handled with kid gloves by the supervisory authorities despite indications of irregularities. It is also about failures of the politicians, which is why Braun’s contacts could be relevant.

The ex-manager has been in custody in Bavaria since the summer. Originally he did not want to appear in person before the committee in Berlin, but instead wanted to testify via video. However, the Federal Court of Justice did not allow these applications, so that Braun was brought to Berlin on Wednesday. He stays in a prison.

Braun is not the only witness who is supposed to testify before the committee on Thursday: A member of the Wirecard supervisory board, the former head of accounting and a manager responsible for the Wirecard subsidiary in Dubai will also be questioned. The two managers should be connected via video – probably also so that they do not run into Braun.

The meanwhile insolvent Dax -Group had granted air bookings of 1.9 billion euros in the summer. The company, once traded as a German hope for technology, was a service provider for cashless payments at checkouts and on the Internet at the interface between merchants and credit card companies – in a highly competitive market.

According to the current status of the investigation, Wirecard made losses for years. The Munich public prosecutor’s office assumes that fictitious profits have been reported since 2015. According to their calculations, banks and investors alone lost more than three billion euros.

But they are not the only victims; many shareholders also lost money because Wirecard shares crashed rapidly after the scandal became known. On Wednesday it became known that after the bankruptcy, a good 11,500 creditors had registered claims totaling 12.4 billion euros. This sum exceeds the proceeds achieved so far in winding up the group many times over. It is ruled out that the insolvency administrator will completely recover the billions that have been lost.

In addition to Wirecard itself, the financial supervisory authority Bafin and an auditing company are criticized in the case. The central questions in the political reappraisal should be when the federal government knew about the irregularities and whether it did too little about it.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), who campaigned for Wirecard on a trip to China last year, and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) are also to be questioned as witnesses in the investigative committee. In response to the scandal, Scholz presented an action plan for reforming financial supervision. The opposition accuses him, however, of trying to divert attention from his own failure as the chief financial regulator.

A committee of inquiry has more rights than ordinary Bundestag committees. He can question witnesses and experts and demand inspection of the files./tam/DP/zb/men

 ISIN  DE0007472060

AXC0072 2020-11-19/08:20

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