Fintech fraud investigation continues into Wirecard, as German police and prosecutors search bankrupt firm’s Munich headquarters
The official investigation into Munich fintech start-up Wirecard continues to gather pace with news that prosecutors and police have searched its headquarters.
Last week Wirecard collapsed after it filed for insolvency following a financing scandal.
That came after former CEO Markus Braun was released from custody last Wednesday after he had turned himself in. He walked free after he posted bail set by a Munich court at 5 million euros ($5.65 million).
German financial regulators had last week called the situation at Wirecard a “scandal” and a “disaster”.
It is understood that prior to its collapse, the company had been in emergency talks with its lenders, whom it owed 1.75bn euros.
Wirecard had been until recently one of Europe’s highest-profile fintech start-ups, but it recently confirmed it was unable to release its annual results for 2019 because 1.9bn euros ($2.1bn) was missing from its accounts,
CEO Markus Braun resigned after the massive discrepancy was discovered in its accounts, and last week agency Moody’s withdrew the company’s credit rating.
Wirecard said the funds it had declared on trustee accounts at two banks in the Philippines, had probably never existed.
That declaration came after it attempted to trace the funds and reached a dead-end in the Philippines.
And now according to Reuters, Munich prosecutors and police have searched Wirecard’s headquarters and four further properties.
Twelve prosecutors and 33 police officers were involved in the raids to investigate suspected fraud, including market manipulation, prosecutors said.
A spokeswoman told Reuters that prosecutors were investigating board members Alexander von Knoop and Susanne Steidl, as well as Braun and former director Jan Marsalek. Those people could not be immediately reached for comment.
German prosecutors are said to be considering whether to issue an international warrant for former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek, who according to media reports is currently in the Philippines.
Marsalek, who is also an Austrian citizen, was responsible for Wirecard’s business in Asia that is at the centre of suspicions the group inflated its assets and revenue.
The Philippines do not have an extradition treaty with Germany.