Ex-Wirecard CEO Arrested In Case Over Missing Billions

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BERLIN (AP) –

The former CEO of German payment service provider Wirecard has been arrested in an accounting scandal involving a missing sum of 1.9 billion euros ($ 2.1 billion), prosecutors in Munich said Tuesday.

Markus Braun resigned on Friday after the company revealed that accountants could not find accounts with the € 1.9 billion and postponed the annual report.

On Monday, Wirecard said that the board of directors “assesses on the basis of further investigation that it is probable that there are no assets in the bank accounts of 1.9 billion euros.”

Hours later, it announced the resignation of the chief operating officer, Jan Marsalek, who was suspended from the board last week. The German news agency dpa reported that Marsalek was in charge of the day-to-day operations, including in Southeast Asia, where potential fraud occurred.

Two Philippine banks that would keep the money in escrow accounts said they had no business with Wirecard.

The Bank of the Philippine Islands said a document claiming the company was a customer was “false.” BDO Unibank said that a document claiming that a Wirecard account exists has been forged and “carries forged signatures from bank officials.” The country’s central bank governor said that none of the missing amounts entered the Philippines’ financial system.

Wirecard AG was once regarded as a star of the growing financial technology sector, but its shares fell sharply after the company became the subject of multiple Financial Times reports on accounting irregularities in its Asian operations. Wirecard contested the reports, which started in February 2019, saying he was the victim of speculators.

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