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23 Jun, 2020 08:33

Former CEO of scandal-hit Wirecard arrested on suspicion of falsifying revenue – German prosecutors

Former CEO of scandal-hit Wirecard arrested on suspicion of falsifying revenue – German prosecutors

German payments provider Wirecard’s ex-CEO Markus Braun has been detained over accusations that he inflated the firm's balance sheet and revenues to make it appear stronger and more attractive for investors and customers.

Public prosecutors in Munich confirmed Braun’s arrest on Tuesday, saying he had turned himself in on Monday evening. Braun is set to appear before a judge on Tuesday, and they will decide whether he must remain in custody.

The arrest comes after Wirecard said on Monday that €1.9 billion ($2.13 billion) it had recorded in its accounts likely never existed.

Also on rt.com Wirecard crisis deepens as company claims missing billions may not exist

Wirecard’s longtime CEO Braun stepped down last week after auditors Ernst & Young (EY) made an announcement on Thursday about the missing billions from the company’s accounts. The firm was scheduled to publish Wirecard’s 2019 annual report on Thursday but said it would not be able to, because it could not confirm the existence of €1.9 billion in cash balances on trust accounts.

Braun then said that Wirecard had been the victim of fraud, pointing to irregularities at two unnamed banks. Wirecard had been claiming that the missing amount was held in a trust account in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the central bank of the Philippines said on Sunday the documents produced by Wirecard appeared to be false, and that none of the missing money ever entered its financial system. The regulator added that the names of two of the country’s biggest banks – BDO and BPI – were used to try to mislead eventual investigators. 

BDO Unibank said that a document supposedly confirming the existence of a Wirecard account was falsified and carried "forged signatures of bank officers.”

Also on rt.com Corporate crime: Five biggest financial scams of all time

On Monday, Wirecard announced the firing of its Chief Operating Officer Jan Marsalek, who had been suspended from the management board last week. The media reported that Marsalek had been in charge of overseeing daily operations, including in Southeast Asia, where the possible fraud occurred.

Stock in the company, which was once regarded as a star of the growing financial technology sector, has now fallen over 85 percent since the scandalous revelations last week, combined with the threat of shareholder lawsuits. Wirecard was valued at €24 billion at its peak and was part of Germany’s prestigious DAX 30 index.

A fintech company that was founded in 1999 and is based in Munich, Wirecard boomed in recent years as a provider of digital payment services. It succeeded in making contactless payments seemingly effortless for hundreds of thousands of merchants, with customers including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Visa.

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