Markus Braun, former CEO of the German company, was arrested for the Wirecard scandal.
Braun resigned four days ago after the company revealed a shortfall of €1.9 billion in its balance sheet.
The fact is that this figure, which was initially believed to be held by two banks in the Philippines, has in fact been discovered not to exist, so Braun is accused of accounting fraud for falsifying financial statements.
Furthermore, according to the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office, there is also the suspicion of market manipulation.
Braun is an Austrian investor and entrepreneur who became CEO of Wirecard AG back in January 2002, which means that he will have to answer in person for what happened.
He turned himself in last night and is now under arrest at the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to the prosecution, he falsified his financial statements and turnover to make his company appear stronger and more attractive to investors and customers.
The company’s preliminary financial statements for 2019 and the first quarter of 2020 were withdrawn due to the lack of certification of EY’s audit.
Actually, in the past few days, the former CEO had suggested that the company was itself a victim of fraud and had filed a complaint against unknown parties, although this does not eliminate the suspicion that the company’s top management was in fact already aware of the situation much earlier.
In fact, last October, the Financial Times had already revealed the existence of unclear transactions and the absence of countermeasures.
According to KPMG, it is even possible that these suspicious transactions started as early as 2016, so the assumption that Braun was unaware of this seems remote.
Braun was also the company’s Chief Technology Officer and the main shareholder with just over 7% of the shares.
According to CNN, Braun reportedly said:
“The confidence of the capital market in the company I have been managing for 18 years has been deeply shaken … I respect the fact that responsibility for all business transactions lies with the CEO”.