Fidentia scandal, what happened to Mellies
Wirecard scandal: what did Chancellor Merkel have to do with fraud in the billions?
Showdown in the Wirecard committee of inquiry: Angela Merkel testified on Friday. It was about nothing less than sharing responsibility for the biggest German financial scandal. But what guilt is she really to blame?
A German model company in the first stock market league, a sly manager, almost two billion euros that have disappeared - and a Dax board member who considers himself a secret agent and is now being sought internationally: The history of the German company Wirecard is perfect for the big one Canvas.
As spectacular as the scandal is, it is crucial to come to terms with it. On Thursday Olaf Scholz said in the parliamentary committee of inquiry - the "sharpest sword of parliamentarism" - about Wirecard, on Friday Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But what actually happened? What role did the Wirecard managers play, which role the auditors - and what do the finance minister and the federal chancellor have to do with all of this? t-online guides you through a jungle of lies, entanglements and frauds, explains the background to the Wirecard scandal - and the political dimension of the committee of inquiry.
What kind of company is Wirecard?
Wirecard is a payment provider based in Aschheim near Munich. Within 20 years, the company developed from a service provider in the porn and gaming industry to a celebrated star among the 30 DAX companies and thus to a serious competitor for large companies in the global financial landscape.
In 1999 Wirecard emerged from two predecessor companies, "Wire Card" and "EBS". In 1999 "Wire Card" was founded, a payment service provider in the early days of online trading. Markus Braun joined this team in 2000 - as a consultant for the management consultancy KPMG.
Shortly before that, EBS AG was founded, "Electronic Billing Systems AG", a company that earned its money processing payments to porn websites. At that time it was still on the phone bill.
When Wire Card AG ran into financial problems, EBS took it over. Braun threaded this. He moved to the company from KPMG - and became CEO and Chief Technology Officer.
Markus Braun: The long-time Wirecard boss is now in custody. (Source: Sven Simon / imago images)
Jan Marsalek was with "Wire Card" even before Braun. Marsalek became Braun's right-hand man, and for many years he was Chief Operating Officer responsible for day-to-day business. In 2005 the company went public "through the back door" via "Infogenie AG", a company that had failed when the stock market bubble burst. In 2006 the company was renamed: Wirecard.
Initially, she handled high-risk payments from porn and gambling websites, on the verge of legality. The duo Braun and Marsalek expanded Wirecard further - and changed the company's customer group: away from payment processing in the porn industry to service providers for recognized international companies such as the airline KLM, the household goods specialist WMF or the parcel service FedEx.
With the new business model and customer base, Wirecard's reputation grew - also among investors. The share price of Wirecard rose rapidly, in 2018 Wirecard replaced the state-owned Commerzbank in the first German stock exchange league, the German share index (Dax) . However, the success did not last long (see below).
How exactly did Wirecard's business work?
The group mainly processed card payments both at checkouts and in online business. Whenever someone paid with a credit card on the Internet or at the cash register, Wirecard made sure that the money also reached the online shop or supermarket. Wirecard collected a fee for this - a very small percentage of sales.
The Wirecard business therefore only paid off with a particularly large number of customers and transactions. Wirecard worked with trust accounts for the transactions. These stepped in when a customer's account was not covered - and the payment actually could not have taken place. The trust accounts acted as a kind of insurance to ensure that payments went smoothly.
Wirecard building (symbol picture): How did the billion-dollar fraud come about in the ex-Dax group? (Source: Fotostand / imago images)
For its business, Wirecard also operated its own credit institute in Europe, the Wirecard Bank - including a full banking license. As a middleman, Wirecard Bank ensured that the money came from the card services to the merchants. In other countries where Wirecard did not have such licenses, the company worked with third-party companies who received commissions for this.
In Asia, for example, Wirecard maintained a complex network of around 100 partners, whose business with each other was in turn secured with trust accounts. This complicated company structure with trustees in different countries played a decisive role in the Wirecard accounting scandal.
Because it was only through the trust accounts in Asia that it looked as if third parties would pay the Wirecard Group open invoices by transfer and park on these accounts. In fact, 1.9 billion euros did not exist (see below).
How did the billion-dollar fraud come about - and the exposure of the scandal?
How exactly the billions in fraud came about at Wirecard has so far been difficult to reconstruct. The fact is: In June 2020 the painstakingly built house of cards collapsed. A chronology of the Wirecard scandal:
Spring 2015: In the British "Financial Times" ("FT") first allegations against Wirecard are loud. In the series of articles "The House of Wirecard", the "FT" journalist Dan McCrum questions the rapid growth - and the unclear business model of the group for the first time.
February 2016: The British investor and shortseller "Zatarra Research" publishes a critical report on Wirecard and accuses the company of money laundering and fraud, among other things. Here you can read what a shortseller is. The Wirecard share price then collapses sharply. The German financial regulator Bafin is taking legal action against the investor.
Beginning of 2019: The "FT" adds. In several articles, the British newspaper accuses the group of allegedly falsifying contracts, balance sheets and bills and carrying out money laundering in Asia. The Wirecard share price then rushes down again.
February 2019: Due to the massive drop in the price of Wirecard shares, the Bafin imposed a short sale ban on the group's shares. That means: bets on a falling price of the Wirecard share are no longer allowed - a protective measure for which the Bafin will later take a lot of criticism.
March 2019: Wirecard publishes the results of a test report from a law firm in Singapore and considers itself exonerated. The company files charges against journalist McCrum and the Financial Times.
April 2019: The Bafin is following suit - and is also reporting charges against the "FT". She assumes that the newspaper will do common cause with the shortsellers in order to bring the price of the Wirecard share to a collapse and to make money with bets on this price fall.
October 2019: The "FT" does not give up - but publishes further critical articles about Wirecard. Among other things, she now reports too high reported profits in the balance sheets of the Munich company. A short time later, Wirecard announced a special audit of its balance sheets by the auditing company KPMG. Until then, the regular auditor at Wirecard is actually KPMG's competitor EY.
March 2020: Wirecard is postponing the publication of its annual balance sheet from April 8 to April 30, 2020. The KPMG investigation has not yet been completed. You have been delayed due to the corona pandemic, among other things, according to the group.
End of April 2020: KPMG hands over the report on the special audit to Wirecard. The payment service provider sees itself as relieved again. But some important questions still remain unanswered. The auditing company cannot make any statements on the amount and existence of sales from the so-called third-party business in the years 2016 to 2018 examined. It remains unclear whether the sales exist and are correct or whether they do not exist at all. Wirecard is postponing the publication of the consolidated balance sheet again.
May 2020: The company has announced that it will set up a compliance department from July 1 - the US manager James Freis, who previously worked for Deutsche Börse AG, is to become the board of directors. At the end of May, Wirecard will postpone the presentation of the balance sheet again.
Beginning of June 2020: The Munich public prosecutor's office searches Wirecard's business premises in Aschheim. It is about the suspicion of market manipulation.
June 18, 2020: Just a few hours before the annual press conference, Wirecard reported that the presentation of the annual figures would have to be postponed again. The commissioned auditing company EY had informed the company that there was insufficient evidence for the existence of bank balances in Philippine trust accounts amounting to 1.9 billion euros. Wirecard announces that it will file charges against unknown persons and speaks of a "gigantic fraud". The Wirecard shares went on the day with a minus of 61.82 percent to 39.90 euros from the market. Previously, a share cost more than 100 euros. Jan Marsalek will be released from his position on the board that day.
June 19, 2020: Wirecard boss Markus Braun is vacating his position on the board. Wirecard has an excellent business model, outstanding technology and sufficient resources for a great future, according to Braun. "I don't want to burden this future," he wrote in a statement. Freis, who should not take over the compliance department until July, will be the interim boss.
June 22nd, 2020: The 1.9 billion euros for which EY was looking for evidence are apparently not in the Philippines, as the president of the local central bank announced. The already released Marsalek is now fired "with immediate effect", Markus Braun is arrested. A day later, he is released again on a million dollar bail. The head of the Bafin financial supervisory authority, Felix Hufeld, says his agency has apparently not done enough. “It's a shame,” said Hufeld and continued: “It's a complete disaster.” Jan Marsalek was already in hiding at this point.
June 25, 2020: Wirecard is broke - the company files for bankruptcy. The future of the rising company is uncertain.
Beginning of July 2020: The sell-off at Wirecard begins, more than 100 interested parties want to take over parts of the insolvent group. Michael Jaffé was appointed insolvency administrator, who, among other things, had already wound up the Kirch Group, the semiconductor manufacturer Qimonda and the dubious investing companies of the P&R Group.
July 2020:The Wirecard scandal is turning more and more into a political affair after it becomes known that ex-Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) is said to have advertised Wirecard to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in autumn 2019 - at a time when allegations against the company were already known. There is also outrage that there was apparently confusion about the exact responsibility of the supervisory authorities in the Wirecard scandal: Nobody felt really responsible for Wirecard. The Ministry of Finance under Olaf Scholz (SPD), responsible for the financial supervision of Bafin, which in turn oversees the Wirecard Bank, is coming under increasing pressure.
July 22, 2020: Ex-CEO Braun is arrested again - and this time not released on bail. Since then he has been in custody. The Munich public prosecutor's office is now assuming "commercial gang fraud", breach of trust and market manipulation. She estimates that the accused have inflated the Group's balance sheets since 2015. Other Wirecard managers are also now in jail.
August 21, 2020: As the first bankrupt group in the history of the Dax, Wirecard flies out of the first German stock exchange league. As a result of this incident, Deutsche Börse announced fundamental changes. Among other things, the Dax is to be increased to 40 company values (see below).
September 1, 2020: The Greens, the Left Party and the FDP agree on a committee of inquiry in the German Bundestag to clarify the political entanglements in the case.
September 4th 2020:The public prosecutor's office closes its investigation against the "FT" journalists Stefania Palma and Dan McCrum.
November 2020: Wirecard's core business goes to the major Spanish bank Banco Santander. Markus Braun has to testify in the Bundestag investigative committee. He had "at no time made determinations or received indications that authorities, supervisory bodies or politicians had not behaved correctly, in breach of duty or in any form unfairly," said Braun. He says nothing more and invokes his right to refuse to testify.
End of January 2021:The head of the financial supervisory authority Bafin Hufeld is vacating his post. The Ministry of Finance announced that it was mutually agreed that there should be a staff restart at the top of the Bafin. His deputy, Elisabeth Roegele, also has to vacate her post. It was previously announced that the Bafin reported an employee for insider trading. He had used internal information to trade Wirecard shares. Other employee transactions are also being investigated.
March 2021:Mark Branson is to become the new president of the Bafin. So far, he has been the head of the Swiss financial regulator Finma. Branson is scheduled to take up his post no later than August 1st. A few days later, at the end of March, opposition politicians accuse the Scholz-led finance ministry of deliberately withholding important files. The finance state secretaries reject this accusation. The Treasury Department said it was providing the committee with information "carefully, in detail and as quickly as possible". In total, more than 1,000 folders have already been sent by the ministry in the past weeks and months.
March 26, 2021: Roegele and Hufeld from the Bafin testify in the investigative committee. Roegele rejects allegations that the financial regulator deliberately defended the scandalous company Wirecard. The ban on short selling that she had pronounced was often understood as partisanship or a seal of approval for Wirecard, according to Roegele. But that is not the case: "That was and is not the objective of the Bafin, which it linked to the ban on short sales."
April 20, 2021:Peter Altmaier testifies in the investigative committee and defends himself against allegations. The auditor supervision Apas, for which the CDU politician has the legal supervision, did not act too late.
April 21, 2021: Jörg Kukies appears before the U-Committee. Kukies is one of the key witnesses - he is State Secretary in Olaf Scholz's Ministry of Finance. He is accused of having met several times with ex-Wirecard boss Braun and campaigning for the financial company (see below). He denies the allegations.
April 22, 2021: One day after Kukies his boss, Vice Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz follows. The SPD politician rejects all allegations.
April 23, 2021: The Wirecard Committee has reached its climax. Chancellor Angela Merkel testifies - about her lobbying for the company in China. But she does not unearth much new, instead her contact with Guttenberg plays a major role.
Who are the main characters in the Wirecard crime thriller?
- Markus Braun: Braun, born in 1969, was head of the payment processor for almost 20 years. He expanded the company significantly - from a service provider in the dirty industry to an up-and-coming financial company in the Dax. Braun, who, according to the public prosecutor's office, is said to have run the company with a "corps spirit" and a "strictly hierarchical system", is behind bars. He faces a long prison sentence.
- Jan Marsalek: Marsalek, born in Vienna in 1980, was the second strong man at Wirecard behind company boss Markus Braun. Marsalek comes from a humble background. Shortly before he was supposed to take his Matura at the French grammar school in Vienna, he dropped out of school and then worked for tech start-ups before he joined Wirecard at the age of 20. He was part of the group longer than Braun, rose to the top and was most recently responsible for the company's controversial Asian business as sales director. Marsalek has been on the run since the end of June 2020, presumably he is currently in Russia. Marsalek is wanted with an international arrest warrant. After his escape it became known that Marsalek often boasted of contacts in Russia, even led a kind of double life: For example, he is said to have boasted that he had several passports - "like any good secret agent," as Marsalek is quoted as saying. He is also said to have campaigned for the establishment of a mercenary army in Libya at the end of 2018.
- Felix Hufeld: Hufeld is a German lawyer and was President of the Bafin Financial Supervisory Authority from March 2015 to January 2021. In the course of the Wirecard scandal, the financial regulator came under fire. As a result, Hufeld had to vacate his post.
- Dan McCrum: Dan McCrum is an investigative journalist for the British newspaper "Financial Times".He has been writing about Wirecard since 2015. In the meantime, McCrum was also reported by the financial regulator. He was accused of having bet with speculators on a falling share price.
- Olaf Scholz: The SPD politician is Federal Minister of Finance and is therefore also responsible for the financial supervision of Bafin, a downstream authority of the ministry. Scholz and the Ministry of Finance came under increasing criticism because of their involvement in the Wirecard scandal.
- Peter Altmaier: The Auditor Oversight Commission (APAS) falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, headed by CDU politician Altmaier. This monitors the auditing companies in Germany - including KPMG and EY. The head of Apas was fired in the wake of the accounting scandal.
Files with mug photos of Jan Marsalek: The ex-Wirecard board member is wanted with an international arrest warrant. (Source: Jürgen Heinrich / imago images)
How great is the damage caused by the Wirecard scandal?
Large. Thousands of investors lost a lot of money because the share price of the former Dax group Wirecard plunged into the abyss. The banks that gave Wirecard money and loans were also hit hard. According to estimates, their damage could add up to 3.2 billion euros.
There are currently a lot of lawsuits pending from investors who feel cheated. As early as the summer, investors reported that they had lost a lot of money due to the price drop after the Wirecard affair. The chance that small investors will see their lost money again is extremely small. Because the income from the break-up of the insolvent Wirecard Group will mainly be used to satisfy the banks' demands.
But the biggest German financial scandal does not only have financial consequences. Many people see the reputation of the German financial center as being permanently damaged by the Wirecard debacle. That in turn would ensure that investors refrain from activities in Germany - a fatal consequence for the local corporate landscape.
Who is to blame for the Wirecard scandal?
That is the key question. In addition to the Wirecard board members Markus Braun and Jan Marsalek, other managers of the payment service provider also play important roles in the scandal - not only here in Germany, but also in Dubai, Singapore and the Philippines. The Wirecard Supervisory Board also has to listen to a lot. Because he was unable to stop the goings-on of the managers.
In addition to those involved from the group, there is also criticism of the EY auditors. For ten years, the company checked the Group's balance sheets - and made no complaints. The auditors are accused of making easy money through Wirecard, but not doing their job properly. EY's Germany boss, Hubert Barth, resigned from his post at the end of February 2021, but he will get another job at the EY Group.
After all, politicians are likely to be blamed, more precisely: the financial supervisory authority Bafin as well as the economic and finance ministries - and the chancellor.
What does politics have to do with Wirecard?
A lot, possibly. The most important questions of the political reappraisal are: Did the supervisory authorities handle Wirecard as a rising star on the stock market with kid gloves despite indications of irregularities? When exactly did the federal government know about irregularities? And has she done too little about it?
The dimensions of the Wirecard scandal have not yet been fully clarified. The fact is: there are several levels at which politics is receiving sharp criticism. An overview:
- The failure of financial oversight and accounting police: Despite clear indications of irregularities, the Bafin did not take the necessary steps, criticize the authority. Reports of suspected money laundering prior to the Wirecard bankruptcy were also insufficiently investigated. In addition, the supervisory authority had sided with Wirecard in 2019 and reported the "FT" journalists - and imposed a ban on short sales. It strengthened the impression among investors that Wirecard was the victim of a targeted attack. Short sellers speculate on falling prices for a company and often deliberately publish negative information. Observers are also critical of the fact that the Bafin, on the other hand, only felt responsible for Wirecard Bank - but not for the entire company.
There is also sharp criticism of the German Audit Office for Accounting (DPR). The association DPR, organized under private law, controls balance sheets on behalf of the state. In February 2019, the financial supervisory authority Bafin gave the audit office, also known as the balance sheet police, the information about inconsistencies in Wirecard's 2018 half-year balance sheet. The FREP then initiated an examination - which only came to a conclusion after the Wirecard bankruptcy. In the meantime, the federal government has terminated the contract with the FREP for the end of 2021.
- The lobbying of the politicians: Above all, it is about the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel had advertised Wirecard's entry into the Chinese market on a trip to China in September 2019 - at the request of ex-Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU), who worked as a consultant to Wirecard. Zu Guttenberg sees himself meanwhile as a victim, Wirecard had "deceived us all", as he announced in December 2020 in the U-Committee of the Bundestag for protocol. But not only zu Guttenberg had campaigned for the company. For example, the ex-secret service coordinator in the Chancellery, Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, had lobbying for Wirecard.
- The sleep of the examiner-supervisor: The Auditor Oversight Office, or Apas for short, a body that was relatively unknown until the Wirecard scandal, oversees the auditing companies in Germany - including KPMG and the company EY, which did not cut a good figure in the Wirecard scandal. Critics accuse Apas, a downstream authority of the Federal Ministry of Economics, of not paying enough attention when monitoring EY as a Wirecard service provider. The head of the Apas, Ralf Bose, was dismissed in the course of the accounting scandal. The reason: He was privately trading in Wirecard shares - while his authority was already dealing with the case.
In order to clarify the questions of the political entanglements, a committee of inquiry in the Bundestag has been dealing with Wirecard since autumn 2020. In particular, the opposition politicians Fabio De Masi (Die Linke), Florian Toncar (FDP) and Danyal Bayaz (The Greens) play an important role in the investigation.
The witness interview is to be completed by the end of April. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) was heard on Thursday and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on Friday. Then the final report should be prepared - by summer.
Danyal Bayaz (The Greens), Fabio De Masi (Left Party) and Florian Toncar (FDP) at the presentation of the interim results of the Wirecard U Committee. (Source: Jürgen Heinrich / imago images)
Why is the appearance of Scholz and Merkel in the U-Committee so explosive?
Because with Scholz and Merkel - Vice Chancellor and Chancellor - the heavyweights of German politics testified and had to comment on how deeply the federal government was involved in the billion-dollar scandal.
The debate about the complicity of Scholz and Merkel is also about whether the federal government wanted to establish the Wirecard Group as a "national champion" and therefore committed itself to it. At least that is how the opposition sees it.
Scholz has rejected these allegations. "The federal government is not responsible for this large-scale fraud," said the finance minister on Thursday in the Bundestag investigative committee. "Evidently there was a high level of criminal activity in the company," said Scholz. The Chancellor testified on Friday (see below).
Bafin’s short sale ban is highly controversial
Opposition politicians accuse Scholz of having been informed about the investigations by the financial supervisory authority Bafin at Wirecard since 2019 - and still not intervening or declaring the investigation a top priority. The opposite was the case: the Bafin imposed the short sale ban on Wirecard shares, and the Ministry of Finance watched.
In the meantime, Scholz considers the measure of the financial supervisory authority to be questionable, as he said. It is now known that information from the public prosecutor's office, which played an important role in the ban on short sales, said the Vice Chancellor. This collapses the justification for the measure.
The criticism of Scholz, however, does not stop after his testimony. Danyal Bayaz from the Greens said, for example: "Olaf Scholz no longer gets the tap closed, as often as he has washed his hands in innocence."
When questioned by the investigative committee, he repeatedly denied any responsibility. "This self-assessment is strange for the chief employer of the financial supervisory authority. His house has put its hands on the lap of the ban on short sales, although this was issued by the Bafin against all sense of reason," said Bayaz.
Sharp criticism of Scholz's State Secretary
A State Secretary in Scholz's Ministry of Finance, Jörg Kukies, is also criticized. Kukies met with Wirecard CEO Braun in autumn 2019, on Braun's 50th birthday, which Kukies said nothing about. The matter is explosive because Kukies is chairman of the Bafin board of directors - and because there are no written minutes of the meeting.
In addition, on June 23, 2020, when the group had already admitted that billions of euros were missing and the Wirecard share price had already collapsed, Kukies asked the head of Ipex for a phone call, which also took place. Ipex is a subsidiary of the state development bank KfW.
The Federal Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs should find "a 'German solution' for Wirecard", "Spiegel" quotes from an email from Ipex boss Klaus Michalak to his superiors. "Mr. Kukies probably wants to discuss with us whether we can not only keep still, but whether we would increase our commitment if necessary."
Apparently, the State Secretary wanted to drum up for the state to continue to give the company a loan worth millions - shortly before the company collapsed. It didn't happen.
"No particular interest in defending a national champion Wirecard"
Two days after the phone call, on June 25, 2020, Wirecard filed for bankruptcy. The finance ministry vehemently denied the allegations, a spokesman for the minister said in mid-March 2021 that "all options to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy had been examined - and for good reasons immediately discarded".
Kukies was already a witness in the U-Committee on Wednesday. He rejected allegations that the then emerging tech company had been handled with kid gloves. "At no point in time was Wirecard AG particularly privileged," emphasized Kukies.
In the Ministry of Finance there was "no particular interest in defending a so-called national champion Wirecard". He personally "never acted or intervened in favor of Wirecard AG," emphasized Kukies.
Jörg Kukies: The State Secretary in the Wirecard U Committee. (Source: Bernd von Jutrczenka / Pool / Reuters)
Does Scholz's statement harm his candidacy for chancellor?
Quite possible. Since Scholz is the candidate for chancellor of his party, the SPD, his statements in the U-Committee are of particular importance - and may be used against him in the election campaign by his political opponents.
Even before his testimony, Scholz was faced with accusations, even from within his own ruling coalition. Union chairman Matthias Hauer raised serious allegations against Scholz. "First of all, from my point of view, it has become very clear in this committee of inquiry that Olaf Scholz bears political responsibility," he said on Wednesday, before Scholz's statement.
Dispute over private mails from Scholz
It was also the Union that insisted on private mails from Scholz on Thursday. She accused the Vice Chancellor of withholding relevant emails from the committee that he had sent from a private account.
CDU man Hauer criticized Scholz for obstructing the committee's work. He has to deliver mails later. In contrast, SPD chairman Jens Zimmermann rejected the allegations. The Ministry of Finance had given all files to the committee - including emails from the minister's private account. Zimmermann accused the coalition partner of "political slapstick".
Scholz also said that he could not deliver more than what the committee had - the private mails had meanwhile been deleted.
"A balance sheet of horror"
Regardless of Scholz's mail traffic, the opposition sees Scholz as guilty. In his criticism, Bayaz of the Greens draws a conclusion from Scholz's term of office: "With P&R, Wirecard and most recently Greensill, three billion-dollar scandals in this legislature fall under Olaf Scholz's direct area of responsibility - a balance of horror."
For the aggrieved investors, Olaf Scholz did not show any particular empathy at his appearance, said Bayaz. "That way you don't regain confidence in the financial center." This is a topic that will certainly keep the candidate for chancellor busy during the election campaign.
What does the Chancellor have to do with fraud in the billions?
Maybe not that much. With Merkel, as with her Vice Chancellor Scholz, the charge is that she wanted to establish a new financial group "Made in Germany" with Wirecard. Merkel had lobbied for Wirecard in China - at the request of her ex-Defense Minister zu Guttenberg. After the Wirecard bankruptcy, she emphasized that it was customary to address the concerns of German companies when traveling abroad.
She also rejected allegations in the investigation committee, dismissing her commitment to Wirecard as a normal process. The federal government regularly campaigns for the interests of German corporations abroad, said the CDU politician on Friday.
At the same time, she distanced herself from ex-economics minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU), who, as a lobbyist for Wirecard, took responsibility for the Chancellery. CSU politician Hans Michelbach apologized for this on behalf of his party. The opposition accused Merkel of being too uncritical.
Merkel said that with today's knowledge, she would have acted differently, but she did not have that in 2018 and 2019. "In spite of all press reports, there was no reason to assume serious irregularities at Wirecard." You personally had not known any.
FDP politician: Merkel's use was a "mistake"
"The Chancellery and her ministers have prepared Merkel badly for her visit to China," summarized Green politician Danyal Bayaz. There were already publicly accessible warnings on the trip in September 2019. "The Chancellor did not smear herself with fame."
The FDP politician Florian Toncar described Merkel's commitment to Wirecard in China as a "mistake". The group had succeeded in getting its message across and Merkel was ultimately responsible for this process. However, the consequences for Merkel are unlikely - especially since she is no longer running for federal election in 2021. She will therefore no longer feel the political consequences.
How should a Wirecard scandal be prevented in the future?
In addition to the clarification in the parliamentary committee of inquiry and personnel consequences, there is also the question of how a financial scandal like the one at Wirecard can be prevented in the future.
In particular, the financial supervision Bafin is to be fundamentally reformed. In the future, the Bonn authority is to use covert test purchases to check whether customers receive adequate advice before they buy financial products.
At the same time, the supervisory structure of the Bafin should become more efficient, the president should get more powers. Among other things, it is to be reinforced with experts in auditing and balance sheet analysis. The Bafin should also be able to initiate special audits itself. To do this, they should have a task force with specially trained specialists.
Dax changes significantly
In addition to the Bafin, the requirements for the first stock market league, the Dax, are also changing. From September 2021, the Dax will grow by ten listed companies to 40 members. Then it will no longer be called Dax 30 but rather Dax 40, whereas the MDax will shrink from 60 to 50 values.
Until 2020, Deutsche Börse checked the composition of the Dax once a year, in September. Since 2021, decisions have been made twice a year as to which stock corporations should be listed in the Dax and which should not. In addition, companies that have not made any operating profits for two years will no longer be allowed into the top stock market league in the future.
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