Berlin (dpa) – In his first questionnaire in the Bundestag inquiry committee, former Wirecard boss Markus Braun largely refused to make a statement, but politicians and supervisory authorities took protection.
“At no time had he made any findings or received indications that the authorities, control bodies or politicians had not behaved properly, improperly or in any unfair way,” the 51-year-old man said in a brief statement on Thursday. This also applies to the supervisory board as a control body and to the auditors, who have apparently been massively misled. Braun did not respond to questions, which deputies later clearly criticized.
He wanted to speak to the prosecutor first, explained Braun, who has been detained since the summer, for his silence. “Ultimately, independent judges will decide who is legally responsible for the collapse of the Wirecard AG company,” he said.
The former head of the company is believed to be one of the main people responsible for the fraud scandal in which Wirecard is said to have logged billions in fake transactions over years. The committee wants to find out whether the German fintech company, as a rising star on the stock market, was handled with childish gloves by supervisory authorities despite signs of wrongdoing.
In his statement, he spoke to Braun about “embezzled corporate funds,” but did not provide more precise information on the victims and beneficiaries. He announced that he wanted to comment “without delay” to the prosecutor.
The deputies harshly criticized Braun’s behavior. AfD committee chair Kay Gottschalk announced that he would be reconvened. Union MP Matthias Hauer and Green MP Danyal Bayaz accused Braun of having behaved disrespectfully towards parliament and the public. “He cheats, he mercilessly pursues his own advantage,” emphasized FDP deputy Florian Toncar. Left-wing financial politician Fabio De Masi described Braun as the “liveliest mummy” he has ever seen. Jens Zimmermann of the SPD said he was “getting tougher” for Braun because his colleagues wanted to cooperate with the prosecutor and investigating authorities.
Former Wirecard supervisory board member Tina Kleingarn also didn’t let Braun appear favorably. He could not have imagined, “that Wirecard AG board members could be involved in fraudulent behavior,” he told the committee. However, he disagreed with Wirecard’s corporate governance. Corporate governance refers to the rules and procedures by which a company is run.
The 46-year-old was a member of the Wirecard Supervisory Board for a year and a half until September 2017 and then resigned. He reported that the company had “gone up and down”, more like a new company than a publicly traded company.
In his resignation letter, which has been received by the German Press Agency, Kleingarn wrote that the CEO was not prepared to adapt the management of the company to the increased complexity and a modern understanding of corporate governance. There is a lack of orderly and adequate management and control structures. The board of directors acts with too much autonomy and sees business monitoring as a burden. In the committee he testified that the head of the house was clearly dark.