Police search Wirecard offices in Germany, Austria for $2.1bn

The fintech company’s stock slid about 95 percent in the two weeks since it acknowledged the missing billions.

Television news crews film as visitors exit the Wirecard AG headquarters during a police raid in Munich, Germany, on Wednesday [Michaela Handrek-Rehle/Bloomberg]
Television news crews film as visitors exit the Wirecard AG headquarters during a police raid in Munich, Germany, on Wednesday [Michaela Handrek-Rehle/Bloomberg]

Wirecard AG’s offices in Germany and two locations in Austria were raided by Munich prosecutors looking into the 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) that went missing from the fintech company’s accounts.

Twelve prosecutors and 33 police officers are conducting the searches, a spokeswoman for the Munich authority said Wednesday. The action is part of the probe that led to the arrest of former Chief Executive Officer Markus Braun last week.

Wirecard filed for protection from creditors after investigations revealed that 1.9 billion euros previously reported as cash was missing from its accounts and probably never existed. On Monday, a Munich court appointed Michael Jaffe as its preliminary insolvency administrator.

Braun turned himself on June 22 in Munich as part of a probe into the company’s accounting practices, prosecutors said. A day later, he was granted bail of 5 million euros and released from custody. He’s being investigated for forging accounts and market manipulation allegations.

Wirecard shares fell as much as 17% at noon Wednesday after an exchange outage was resolved in Frankfurt. The stock slid about 95% in the two weeks since the company acknowledged the missing billions.

The raids come as Jaffe said the assets are getting interest from “numerous” global investors and a sale process involving investment banks is on the way.

“A large number of investors from all over the world have already contacted us, who are interested in acquiring the core business or the independent business units that operate successfully on the market,” Jaffe said in a statement.

The company will carry out a structured transaction process involving investment banks specialized in various areas, according to the statement. An analysis of the causes of the crisis and verification of payment flows is also taking place.

Worldline, a French payments company, is among parties interested in buying parts of Wirecard, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported last week. The German group’s North American unit is seeking to be acquired, with an investment bank coordinating the sale process.

It can’t be ruled out that insolvency applications for Wirecard subsidiaries have to be filed, the preliminary administrator said. Jaffe is in discussions with customers, trading partners and credit-card organizations.

The group’s Wirecard Bank AG unit remains solvent, and payouts to merchants and customers are being executed without restrictions, the statement said.

Source : Bloomberg

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