German authorities have arrested, again, the former head of payment services provider Wirecard Markus Braun along with the company’s former chief financial officer and chief accounting officer.
The Austrian chief executive, who had led the fintech start-up since 2002, was released from police custody on bail after paying a deposit of €5 million. He is accused of inflating the company’s balance sheet to make it more attractive to investors and customers.
Former Wirecard CEO was released a day after he turned himself in to German prosecutors on June 23.
Germany is also probing the rest of Wirecard’s former management board, including ex-chief operating officer Jan Marsalek, who had managed the day-to-day running of the company.
Marsalek has been missing since his dismissal from Wirecard, but earlier this week, German media reported he is being sheltered by Russian secret service agents in the military-controlled GRU. He allegedly sent large amounts of bitcoin to Russia from Wirecard’s Dubai unit, whose former head was arrested earlier this month in Germany. Prosecutors, however, denied his bail and said he would be kept in custody as there was a risk that he would flee or tamper with evidence.
A €1.9 billion black hole
Also, in the frame of massive accounting scandals are the former financial manager in south-east Asia and a trustee who was responsible for managing the business with third-party companies. These were mainly in charge of the company’s missing billions that were supposedly held in fiduciary accounts in Asia.
Once a star in the German financial sector, Wirecard shocked the financial world when it admitted last month that €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion), which makes up a quarter of the balance sheet, was missing from its accounts in Asian banks. The DAX-listed company has since filed for bankruptcy and now likely on the verge of collapse.
Though allegations had dogged Wirecard for months, the highly-rated German business was valued at €24 billion just before it admitted to the hole in its balance sheet.
Wirecard, founded in Aschheim in southern Germany in 1999, had annual revenue of more than €2 billion, €365 million in profit, and employs over 6,000 people globally, with subsidiaries from Brazil to India.