Former Wirecard COO put on Interpol’s most-wanted list

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
The logo of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions, is pictured at its headquarters in Aschheim, near Munich, Germany, July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
The logo of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of white label solutions for electronic payment transactions, is pictured at its headquarters in Aschheim, near Munich, Germany, July 1, 2020. Photo:Andreas Gebert/Reuters

Germany has asked Interpol to help it find former Wirecard (WDI.DE) chief operating officer Jan Marsalek, who has been at large since the payments company’s massive accounting scandal broke in June this year.

Interpol’s red notice on Marsalek states that Germany charges the former executive with “violation of the German duty on securities act and the securities trading act, criminal breach of trust, especially serious case of fraud.”

The DAX-listed Wirecard had a dramatic fall from grace mid-June, after auditors EY refused to sign off on the company’s 2019 accounts, saying they could not verify the existence of €1.9bn (£1.7bn, $2.25bn) that Wirecard claimed it was holding in trust accounts overseas.

Banks in the Philippines subsequently announced that documents appearing to show that Wirecard had deposited money with them were false, and the country’s central bank said none of the €1.9bn missing from Wirecard’s balance sheet entered the country’s financial system.

READ MORE: Central bank says Wirecard's missing funds didn't enter Philippines

On Wednesday (12 August) Munich public prosecutors' office and the German federal police issued an appeal for leads on Marsalek’s whereabouts, saying in a statement that Marsalek is “currently on the run” and “is strongly suspected of having committed billions in commercial gang fraud, the particularly serious case of embezzlement and other property and economic offences.”

There have been reports that he had fled to various countries including the Philippines, China and Russia.

The German Press Agency (DPA) reported today that Filipino immigration officials are believed to have falsified travel documents for Marsalek, that showed that he arrived in Manila on 23 June and left the next day to fly to China.

Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun, who quit in June when the accounting scandal started unfolding, was arrested by the Munich authorities in June, then allowed out on bail, which was revoked and he was re-arrested in July.

Braun and two other former executives are charged with fraud, market manipulation and breach of trust among other charges.

"The company was to be presented as financially strong and attractive to investors and clients, so that loans could be obtained from banks and other investors on a regular basis, as well as keep it generating its own income," Munich prosecutors said in July.

The DAX announced this week that Wirecard — which announced its insolvency in June—would be ejected from the index of Germany’s 30 most valuable blue-chip companies next week. Its place could possibly be taken by Berlin-based start-up Delivery Hero.

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