Security & Fraud

Wirecard Probe Pushes German Government To Release Talks With CEO

Jörg-Kukies-germany-wirecard

Lawmakers are urging German Chancellor Angela Merkel to release transcripts of conversations between Deputy Finance Minister Jörg Kukies and former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, as the collapse of the payments processing company has captured headlines for weeks.

The Financial Times (FT) reported there was one conversation between the two men that took place on Braun’s 50th birthday in November and an earlier talk in September.

In a letter to the Parliament’s Finance Committee, Sarah Ryglewski, a deputy finance minister, said the content of the conversations could not be disclosed because they are classified, the Times reported after seeing the letter.

As a result, members of Parliament can only see a summary of the conversations, but its content cannot be released to the public.

“This is just utterly unacceptable,” Fabio De Masi, a lawmaker with the leftwing Die Linke party, told the FT. “Given the scope and scale of the Wirecard scandal and the regulatory and political failure in handling it, the wider public has a fundamental right to know.”

Danyal Bayaz, a Green member of parliament, told the Financial Times he blamed the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), Germany’s financial regulator, for the mess.

“BaFin failed to take the many warnings over irregularities at Wirecard seriously for way too long,” he said. “Even if BaFin lacked certain regulatory competencies to crack down on Wirecard, it at least should have flagged this issue much earlier.”

Once a rising star on the world stage, the $28 billion financial technology giant declared insolvency last month, the equivalent of a bankruptcy filing in the U.S.; The company reported it owed creditors nearly $4 billion after it revealed $2.1 billion went missing from two Philippines banks that Ernst & Young said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.

German law enforcement authorities said they have added money laundering, balance falsification and market manipulation to the charges facing the collapsed firm.

Braun has been arrested and released pending a trial, while Wirecard’s former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek is being sought by authorities in several countries.

Last week, the company’s Dublin offices were raided by police at the request of German authorities.

“Following receipt of a mutual legal assistance treaty from German authorities, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau began a search under warrant at a financial services provider with a business premises in Dublin city centre today, Thursday, July 9,” the GNECB press office said in a statement.

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