Berlin (dpa) – The former head of the scandal company Wirecard will testify on Thursday at the Bundestag’s commission of inquiry into accounting fraud.
The deputies want to ask the former manager about his contacts with politics and the authorities. He is considered unlikely to comment on possible criminal machinations and specific allegations of fraud by the prosecution. Witnesses do not have to incriminate themselves. Markus Braun is one of the main culprits in 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. It’s also about politicians’ failures, so Braun’s contacts could be relevant.
The former manager has been detained in Bavaria since the summer. At first, he did not want to appear in person before the committee in Berlin, but to testify by video. However, the Federal Court of Justice did not allow these requests, so Braun was taken to Berlin on Wednesday. He stays in a prison.
Braun is not the only witness who is supposed to testify before the committee on Thursday: A member of Wirecard’s supervisory board, the former chief accountant and a manager responsible for Wirecard’s Dubai subsidiary will also be questioned. The two managers should be connected by video, probably also so they don’t know Braun.
The now insolvent Dax group had granted air bookings of 1.9 billion euros during the summer. The company, once marketed as a German hope for technology, was a service provider for cashless payments at checkouts and on the Internet at the interface between merchants and credit card companies, in a highly competitive market. .
Based on the current status of the investigation, Wirecard had losses for years. The Munich prosecutor’s office assumes that fictitious profits have been reported since 2015. According to their calculations, only banks and investors lost more than three billion euros.
But they are not the only victims; many shareholders also lost money as Wirecard shares plummeted rapidly after the scandal broke. On Wednesday it became known that after the bankruptcy, some good 11,500 creditors had registered claims for a total of 12,400 million euros. This sum exceeds many times the income obtained so far in the liquidation of the group. It is ruled out that the bankruptcy administrator fully recovers the billions that have been lost.
In addition to Wirecard, the financial supervisory authority Bafin and an auditing company are criticized in the case. The central questions in the political reassessment should be when the federal government was aware of the wrongdoing and did very little about it.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), who campaigned for Wirecard on a trip to China last year, and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) will also be questioned as witnesses in the investigation committee. In response to the scandal, Scholz presented an action plan to reform financial supervision. The opposition, however, accuses him of trying to divert attention from his own failure as the main financial regulator.
A commission of inquiry has more rights than ordinary committees of the Bundestag. It can question witnesses and experts and demand inspection of the files.