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Former Wirecard boss Braun indicted

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Munich (dpa) – In the biggest fraud case in post-war German history, the Munich public prosecutor’s office has brought charges against former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun.

Investigators accuse Braun and two other former top managers of the former Dax group of “gang-like behavior”. They are said to have falsified balance sheets and damaged lending banks by a total of €3.1bn since 2015, of which €1.7bn was in loans and another €1.4bn in bonds. Through his spokesperson, Braun’s defense attorneys asserted his client’s innocence and made serious accusations against investigators.

According to the indictment, Wirecard’s balance sheets from 2015 to 2018 were incorrect: an audited balance sheet for 2019 was no longer available. In June 2020, Wirecard, once considered a leading German technology company, filed for bankruptcy. The triggers were €1.9 billion that were allegedly registered in trust accounts.

However, according to investigations, these were false reservations on a large scale. As a payment service provider, Wirecard processed credit card payments at checkouts and in online retail. The allegedly non-existent billions were recorded as income from associated companies that allegedly processed payments on behalf of Wirecard.

In custody since July 2020

The Austrian has been in custody continuously since July 22, 2020. According to the indictment, Braun, the former chief accountant and head of Wirecard’s Dubai subsidiary, invented extremely profitable businesses, especially in Asia. “Defendant Dr. B. knew that by adopting the incorrect accounting figures, the consolidated balance sheet was also incorrect, and as CEO, however, he signed the respective financial statements,” prosecutors wrote in their statement.

Braun’s defenders, on the other hand, portrayed Braun as a victim: “The prosecution is seriously flawed and takes on a completely wrong crime.” Further proceedings will show that “Dr. Braun was never part of a gang that embezzled millions of dollars behind his back, that he knew nothing of this gang’s machinations and certainly did not benefit from them.” This is addressed to former sales director Jan Marsalek, who has been in hiding since the summer of 2020 and against whom the prosecution is investigating separately.

Before the trial begins, the next step is for the Munich Regional Court to decide whether the charges will be admitted. There have been accusations of manipulation against Wirecard for many years, and the British Financial Times uncovered the scandal. Braun himself was ruined by the collapse of his company because he had invested almost all of his fortune in Wirecard stock.

The alleged fraud damage of more than three billion euros, at least in absolute figures and without adjusting for inflation, exceeds all known cases in Germany since 1945. The previous record holder is the Baden company Flowtex, which caused fraud damages of two billion euros with the sale of non-existent drilling machines in the 1990s. In the VW scandal, the follow-up costs for the Wolfsburg group were much higher, around 30 billion euros , but it was not a financial fraud.


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