Wirecard staffers reportedly took millions of euros in funds from the firm’s German base in plastic bags during a timeframe that spanned years, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources. Individuals who used to work for Wirecard told authorities investigating the firm that workers took cash in sizable quantities out of headquarters a number of times.
While Wirecard’s primary business was handling payments for retailers, the company also owned a branchless bank. As demand for cash increased, Wirecard Bank purchased a safe that was stationed in the group’s German base.
In one instance, €500,000 (approximately $600,000) worth of cash was delivered at a time when the safe didn’t have any additional space, FT reported, citing emails it viewed and an unnamed source. A portion of the funds had to be stashed outside the safe in the offices.
Wirecard was valued at €24 billion (approximately $28.9 billion) at its apex, but it went bust in 2020, falling apart when it was discovered that €1.9 billion (approximately $2.3 billion) of corporate funds weren’t in existence and some of its operations in Asia weren’t legitimate.
The news comes after prosecutors in Frankfurt are launching a probe into the manner in which Germany’s financial watchdog, BaFin, supervised Wirecard AG and into whether some of the regulator’s workforce illicitly traded shares. Frankfurt prosecutors said they began the probe after they reviewed information that was removed from BaFin in February when they visited the agency’s offices. BaFin filed its own criminal complaint with Stuttgart prosecutors in January against one of its workers over possible insider trading of Wirecard shares.
Germany is aiming to shore up the leadership of BaFin and intends to bring experts onboard to supervise regulations. In addition to hiring top professionals, the regulator also intends to build a task force to look into any suspected accounting fraud, per Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Kukies.
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