Two years have passed since Wirecard abruptly filed for bankruptcy protection, confirming the allegations of bears and skeptics. And after two years of investigations, German prosecutors have finally formally charged former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun and two other executives with fraud - while former CIO Jan Marsalek remains a fugitive from justice.
Prosecutors in Munich said Monday that ex-CEO Markus Braun signed off on financial reports despite knowing they had been faked. They said the firm booked nonexistent revenue it attributed to multiple partnerships, mostly in Asia and the Philippines in particular, and used fake documents to purportedly show the firm had money that it ultimately did not, the Associated Press reports.
Braun's attorney said the charges were "seriously flawed" and "assumed a false picture of the facts." The defense claims that Braun was unaware of machinations by other executives. Despite this, he remains in custody.
In addition to Braun, the firm's former head of accounting and the managing director of the Dubai-based subsidiary also were charged.
Wirecard's fraud cost banks 3.1 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in loans and writedowns, according to the prosecutors’ statement.
During its heyday, Wirecard grew rapidly, and eventually found itself being listed among Germany's top blue-chip stocks before the firm filed insolvency proceedings in 2020, based on the revelation that €1.9 billion ($2 billion) that had been included on the country's balance sheet could not be found.
Of course, a German court must agree to the charges before a trial can be held.