Wirecard scandal: German MPs question ex-boss Braun

Publishedduration2 hours agoimage copyrightEPAimage captionMarkus Braun's links to politicians are being investigated

The former head of the disgraced payments firm Wirecard, Markus Braun, has appeared before German MPs investigating the biggest corporate scandal in post-war Germany.

He has been charged with fraud and embezzlement, and was escorted to Berlin from pre-trial detention in Munich. He denies wrongdoing.

Wirecard collapsed in June after admitting that €1.9bn (£1.7bn; $2.2bn) was missing from its accounts.

Mr Braun did not answer MPs' questions.

The former board chairman said he had seen no evidence or indication that any public officials had behaved improperly in connection with Wirecard, and added that he would speak next to the state prosecutors. He refused to comment further on the scandal.

"In the end, independent judges will decide who bears legal responsibility for the collapse of the Wirecard AG business," Mr Braun said.

He had been in charge of the German fin-tech firm since 2002.

Police are searching for another ex-senior manager at Wirecard, Jan Marsalek, a prime suspect in the collapse and wanted by Interpol. Both he and Mr Braun are Austrian.

In the UK, payment cards and foreign currency cards linked to Wirecard were blocked when the scandal broke.

  • Ex-boss of scandal-hit Wirecard arrested
  • Wirecard: 'It’s really bad. I’m left with nothing'
  • UK cardholders' money locked amid Wirecard fallout

The scandal has sent shockwaves through German politics: there are allegations that both financial regulators and the government failed to do proper checks on Wirecard.

The parliamentary inquiry is headed by opposition politicians. Germany's DPA news agency says they are expected to call Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to testify.

Thousands of shareholders are seeking more than €12bn in compensation – far more than is likely to be recovered by the bankruptcy regulators.

When Wirecard joined Germany's blue-chip Dax 30 share index two years ago it was valued at €24bn. But this summer the company's shares crashed more than 80% when the scandal broke.

The scandal emerged after a series of articles in the Financial Times last year focusing on alleged accounting irregularities in Wirecard's Asian operations.

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