Security & Fraud

Former Wirecard Execs Face Criminal Charges In Austria

Former Wirecard Execs Face Criminal Charges In Austria

The Wirecard AG accounting scandal has extended its reach to Austria.

A criminal complaint has been filed in a Vienna court against Wirecard’s former CEO Markus Braun and its fired CEO Jan Marsalek, accusing them of market manipulation and fraud, Reuters reported.

The Vienna prosecutors’ office confirmed that it received the claim from attorney Joerg Zarbl, the news service reported. The story first appeared in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard.

The office is determining whether it is the right jurisdiction to pursue a claim against the German company.

Zarbl said he filed the claim in Austria because Braun and Marsalek are Austrian natives.

He told Reuters on Tuesday (June 30) that Braun borrowed 120 million euro ($135 million) last month to buy at least 2.5 million Wirecard shares through a holding company. The purchase, he said, followed a critical audit in April by KPMG International Cooperative, a global accounting firm based in the Netherlands, which sent its shares plummeting. 

That stock buy helped Wirecard’s shares rebound. Zarbl said he wants prosecutors to look into whether Braun intended to send positive signals to the market, the report said.

“There is a suspicion of market manipulation here,” he told Reuters.

Once valued at $28 billion, the high-flying German payment processing firm filed for insolvency last week in debt to creditors for nearly $4 billion, the report said.  

Ernst & Young, the company’s independent auditor, disclosed that $2.1 billion of supposed deposits were missing from two Philippines banks. The discovery led to Braun’s resignation and Marsalek’s termination. 

The company faces criminal investigations by law enforcement in Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

There was some good news on Tuesday (June 30) for Wirecard: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the London-based agency that regulates the U.K.’s financial services industry, agreed to allow Wirecard Card Solutions to resume its banking operations in England, as financial regulators lifted restrictions that had been placed on the troubled German payments company four days ago.

Wirecard North America Inc., a separate company from Wirecard AG, is for sale, the Pennsylvania company announced on Monday (June 29).

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