Security & Fraud

Ex-Wirecard CEO Defends Regulators, Refuses To Answer German Parliament’s Questions

Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun doesn't blame regulators or German politicians for the events that led to Wirecard's demise in a global scandal earlier this year, the Financial Times reports.

Braun, speaking before the investigative committee into the Wirecard case, said there wasn't a point where he'd concluded that “authorities, supervisory bodies or politicians had behaved improperly, dishonestly or in breach of their duties” in the run-up to Wirecard’s collapse, the news outlet reported.

“I can’t understand why external regulators should be held responsible for failures here,” he said, according to the report. He said EY, the longtime auditor for Wirecard which came under fire for reportedly overlooking numerous inconsistencies at the payments company, was "apparently comprehensively deceived" in yearly audits when it didn't spot the irregularities.

Wirecard, once a darling of the European payments scene, filed for insolvency in June after it came to light that there was a missing $2.1 billion that the company initially claimed was deposited in the Philippines — but later revealed didn't exist at all.

German regulator BaFin could see more power in the future as Germany's finance and justice ministers want to give it better investigative and oversight powers so as to prevent other such scandals in the future.

Braun refused to answer questions after delivering his statement, with even basic inquiries from MPs on the subject of his PhD thesis or whether he had a daughter going unanswered, the Financial Times reported. This caused an outrage among the MPs, who said Braun was destroying peoples' faith in German institutions and that he had led a gang of "white-collar criminals who for years ran an elaborate fraud scheme, hoodwinked banks and investors and embezzled billions of euros," with crimes punishable by years in prison, the report said.

The committee is also set to look at the reasons German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, lobbied for Wirecard even after the irregularities in the company's dealings began to come to light, FT writes.

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