HomeWorldFormer Wirecard chief on trial in fraud case that embarrassed Germany

Former Wirecard chief on trial in fraud case that embarrassed Germany

BERLIN (AP) — The former chief executive of financial services company Wirecard and two other former managers went on trial Thursday over the firm’s collapse in what has been described as the biggest fraud case in postwar Germany.

Wirecard was long a darling of Germany’s fintech scene until it filed for insolvency proceedings in 2020, saying €1.9bn that had been on its balance sheet could not be found.

The case exposed flaws in Germany’s financial oversight bodies and embarrassed then-chancellor Angela Merkel, who had lobbied on behalf of the company during a visit to China.

Prosecutors in Munich allege that former chief executive Markus Braun signed financial reports he knew to be false. The firm allegedly recorded non-existent income that he attributed to multiple companies in other countries and used false documents to show that it had funds that it did not, they said.

The firm’s former chief accountant and the managing director of a Dubai-based subsidiary are also on trial.

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The fraud cost banks 3.1 billion euros in loans and write-offs, according to prosecutors.

One of the central figures in the case, the company’s former COO Jan Marsalek, remains at large.

Braun’s lawyers have said the charges against their client are “seriously flawed” and “assumed a false picture of the facts.” They claim that Braun was unaware of the machinations of others.

The complex trial is expected to last more than a year.

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