Po­lice raid Wire­card’s Ger­man HQ and four other prop­er­ties

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By

Michael O’Dwyer

PO­LICE have raided Wire­card’s of­fices in Ger­many as in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the €1.9bn (£1.7bn) ac­count­ing scan­dal intensify.

Some 12 prose­cu­tors and 33 po­lice of­fi­cers car­ried out searches and were sup­ported by po­lice IT ex­perts, Mu­nich au­thor­i­ties con­firmed.

Po­lice swept a to­tal of five prop­er­ties in Ger­many and Aus­tria, in­clud­ing Wire­card’s head­quar­ters near Mu­nich.

Markus Braun, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the com­pany that filed for in­sol­vency last week, was ar­rested last week on sus­pi­cion of ac­count­ing fraud and mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion be­fore be­ing re­leased on bail.

The where­abouts of Jan Marsalek, Wire­card’s for­mer chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, is still un­known. He is wanted by Ger­man po­lice but is yet to hand him­self in. He is be­lieved to have trav­elled to the Philip­pines, where au­thor­i­ties are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the scan­dal.

Mu­nich prose­cu­tors have widened their in­ves­ti­ga­tions to in­clude board mem­bers Alexan­der von Knoop and Su­sanne Steidl, a spokesman said.

It came as ad­min­is­tra­tors in Ger­many stepped up ef­forts to find buy­ers for parts of the busi­ness in an ef­fort to re­cover money for cred­i­tors of the stricken pay­ments firm that failed to pay staff at the end of last week. Michael

Jaffé, an ad­min­is­tra­tor ap­pointed to the com­pany on Tues­day night, said a sale process was un­der way, with bankers al­ready in­volved after sev­eral in­vestors ex­pressed in­ter­est in buy­ing slices of Wire­card’s busi­ness.

“A large num­ber of in­vestors from all over the world have con­tacted us, in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing ei­ther the core busi­ness or busi­ness units that are in­de­pen­dent of it,” he said.

Ad­min­is­tra­tors are rac­ing to find buy­ers for Wire­card’s as­sets be­fore key cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees leave the firm, which could dent their value.

Lloyds Bank sold a €120m tranche of a re­volv­ing credit fa­cil­ity it had ad­vanced to Wire­card for about 17 cents in the euro, Reuters re­ported cit­ing an un­named source.

Ad­vis­ers at Al­varez & Marsal are ex­plor­ing op­tions for Wire­card’s UK sub­sidiary, which re­sumed op­er­a­tions on Tues­day after the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity lifted a freeze on ac­counts that pre­vented cus­tomers of sev­eral fin­tech firms from ac­cess­ing money.

Wire­card em­ploy­ees were linked to a net­work of Bri­tish com­pa­nies as­so­ci­ated with al­leged money laun­der­ing,

The Times re­ported.

Staff were in­volved at hun­dreds of shell com­pa­nies con­nected to pornog­ra­phy, gambling and dat­ing web­sites.

Wire­card de­clined to com­ment.

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