BERLIN (AP) – Investigators searched the headquarters of German payment system provider Wirecard and four other locations on Wednesday as part of their investigation of an accounting scandal that led to the arrest of the company’s former CEO and forced the company to file for bankruptcy protection .
Twelve prosecutors were supported during Wednesday’s raids by 33 police officers and police IT experts, Munich prosecutors said. Five locations were searched – three in Germany, including Wirecard headquarters in the suburb of Aschheim in Munich and two in neighboring Austria.
Markus Braun, an Austrian who has led Wirecard since 2002, was arrested last week on suspicion of incorrect data statements and market manipulation, and then released on bail. He stepped down as CEO days ago, shortly after Wirecard said that accountants in the Philippines were unable to find accounts containing $ 1.9 billion ($ 2.1 billion).
His arrest came hours after the company concluded that the money probably didn’t exist. Investors have wiped out much of Wirecard’s value in the past two weeks, and the company said on Thursday that it is filing for bankruptcy, a form of bankruptcy protection.
Prosecutors have said they suspect Braun is of inflating the company’s financial position with false returns, “possibly in partnership with other perpetrators,” to “portray the company as financially stronger and more attractive to investors and customers.”
Wirecard headquarters were already searched on June 5 in an investigation into narrower accusations of market manipulation, with suspicions that managers in statements in March and April gave “misleading signals” for the company’s stock price, prosecutors said.
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