German prosecutors charge 3 with fraud in Wirecard collapse

German prosecutors have charged the former CEO of payments firm Wirecard and two other former executives with fraud and false accounting in connection with the firm’s collapse last year

FRANKFURT, Germany — German prosecutors have charged the former CEO of payments company Wirecard and two other ex-executives with fraud and false accounting in connection with the company’s collapse last year amid allegations that much of his income and assets were tampered with.

Munich prosecutors said on Monday that former CEO Markus Braun signed financial reports he knew were false. They said the company accounted for non-existent revenue which it attributed to several partnerships in other countries and used false documents to show it had funds it did not have.

The firm’s former accounting chief and the managing director of a Dubai-based subsidiary have also been charged.

The fraud cost the banks 3.1 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in loans and write-downs, according to the prosecutors’ statement.

One of the central figures in the case, the company’s former chief executive, Jan Marsalek, is wanted by authorities, prosecutors said.

Braun’s lawyer said the charges were “seriously flawed” and “assumed a false picture of the facts”, the dpa news agency reported. The defense said Braun was unaware of the other people’s machinations. He remains in detention.

Wirecard grew rapidly and ended up being among Germany’s top blue-chip stocks before the company filed for insolvency in 2020, claiming 1.9 billion euros that were on its balance sheet were untraceable.

A court must first agree that the case can proceed before a trial can take place.

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