Markus Braun, the long-running chief executive of Wirecard, has stepped down from the apex position following the revelation of €1.9 billion in missing cash from the company.
Braun’s resignation on Friday has taken an immediate effect and James Freis, the company’s chief compliance officer, is taking the charge of the company as an interim CEO. Freis joined the company on Thursday from Deutsche Börse.
Braun is also the largest shareholder of Wirecard, but the company clarified that his resignation came “in mutual consent with the supervisory board.”
The publication of the German payment company’s annual report was delayed for the fourth time on Thursday as Ernst and Young reported that €1.9 billion in cash were missing from the accounts. The amount was equivalent to Wirecard’s quarterly balance sheet.
According to media reports, Bank of the Philippines Islands is one of the two Asian banks where Wirecard said it had deposited money.
The fiasco also led to the suspension of the Jan Marsalek, Wirecard’s chief operating officer, on Thursday.
Defending the company despite a blunder
Before exiting, Braun also released a video statement raising some questions and defending the company from the allegations. Notably, Wirecard also maintained its stand of denying any wrongdoings.
“At present, it cannot be ruled out that Wirecard has become the aggrieved party in a case of fraud of considerable proportions,” Braun said. “It is currently unclear why the two banks have stated to the auditor that the confirmations are spurious. The trustee has announced to Wirecard that he will clarify the facts of the matter with the two banks managing the trust accounts at short notice.”
The disclosed troubles with Wirecard’s books also forced the investors to part away from the company as, since Thursday’s trading sessions on Frankfurt exchange, the company’s stocks plunged over 76 percent, as of press time.