After the Wirecard scandal: the federal government wants to improve control of corporate balance sheets

After the balance sheet scandal at the DAX group Wirecard, the federal government wants to improve the control of corporate balance sheets. A Justice Department spokesman said Monday that “a knowledgeable, effective, and efficient balance sheet review process” is important to ensure a functioning and transparent capital market. The extent of the need for reform will be analyzed together with the Ministry of Finance.

In a first step, the contract with the German accounting agency is to be terminated. The spokesman for the justice department is currently preparing to terminate the contract. The left brought an investigation committee of the Bundestag or a special investigator into play. Group leader Dietmar Bartsch said: “The left-wing group would be ready, if possible, to use these instruments to gain meaningful knowledge before the general election and to ensure that a scandal like that at Wirecard does not happen again.”

The votes of a quarter of all MPs are required to set up a committee of inquiry. Left-wing faction vice Fabio De Masi demanded personnel consequences from the financial supervision Bafin: “The scandal is a disgrace for the financial center Germany.” Bafin President Felix Hufeld and Vice President Elisabeth Roegele would have to take their hats off.

The Federal Government is under pressure due to the balance sheet manipulation at Wirecard that has been undetected for years, the European Commission has the case investigated by the European financial regulator. The control of corporate balance sheets is a task of the financial supervision Bafin – but only in the second stage. The German Audit Office for Accounting (DPR), which is organized under private law, is primarily responsible.

Wirecard lacks a total of 1.9 billion euros, which the group wanted to record on the credit side in its 2019 annual balance sheet, the result of probably non-existent air transactions with subcontractors in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The auditing firm EY, which refused to certify the Wirecard balance sheet, assumes that the international fraud is extensive. As far as is known, the Munich public prosecutor’s office is investigating four former and active Wirecard board members.

Wirecard with its 5800 employees worldwide applied for bankruptcy on Friday and is in an uncertain state of limbo. Attorney Michael Jaffé, appointed by the Munich district court as the provisional insolvency administrator, is currently working on the insolvency report. This paper will play an important role in deciding whether Wirecard should be refurbished or whether operations should be stopped and wound up.

The first customers have already been lost, and future projects that Wirecard had hoped for will very likely not turn into anything anymore. In the UK, the FCA financial regulator shut down its local subsidiary Wirecard Card Systems on Friday and prohibited any transfers of funds and assets. This affected, among other things, the British users of the financial app Curve, which allows all banking activities to be carried out with one program and one card. The company wanted to end the collaboration with Wirecard anyway, and has now done so within a weekend, as a Curve spokesman said on request. Instead of Wirecard, Curve now uses the services of the competitor Checkout.

Wirecard’s ambitious future projects included the planned cooperation with Grab, a car service popular in Southeast Asia similar to the US company Uber. The payment service provider must now bury this hope: “We are pausing the partnership in the light of the latest developments,” said a Grab spokeswoman in Singapore on request.

Deutsche Börse in Frankfurt is revising its rules for the DAX because of the scandal. “Confidence in the capital market has obviously suffered in the last few days. As marketplace operator, it is also our job to strengthen confidence in the capital market,” said the Frankfurt market operator on Monday. Wirecard was admitted to the DAX in autumn 2018, when the company was worth more than 20 billion euros.

Although Wirecard shares have now lost an extremely large amount of their value, Wirecard will remain in the DAX until September 3 – the next regular adjustment date. According to current rules, the scandal company could only be thrown out of the DAX immediately if it was wound up or if the insolvency proceedings could not be opened due to the lack of usable assets.

The Wirecard shares have now become the game ball of speculators. After a loss of just under 99 percent in the past seven trading days, the price doubled on Monday to just under four euros. Wirecard is already flying out of the pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 on Tuesday.


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