Former Wirecard boss Braun stonewalls German lawmakers’ inquiry

In this news, we discuss the Former Wirecard boss Braun stonewalls German lawmakers’ inquiry.

BERLIN / FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The former Wirecard boss answered questions from lawmakers on Thursday when he was temporarily released from prison over an investigation into post-war Germany’s biggest corporate fraud.

Markus Braun, wearing his signature turtleneck and blazer, declined to answer more than 50 questions about Wirecard’s disappearance except to say that no German official behaved inappropriately.

Braun, who has denied any wrongdoing and said Wirecard has been the victim of broader fraud, is in jail awaiting trial. He told lawmakers on Thursday that he had confidence in the German legal system, but said little else in a prepared speech.

The former chief executive’s stance is a setback for lawmakers investigating the implosion of a $ 28 billion German tech star, which collapsed due to billions.

Braun said he also refused to speak to Munich state prosecutors, who charged him with fraud and embezzlement, despite vowing to cooperate with them.

Some German parliamentarians, visibly irritated, resorted to questions of Braun, for example about his family, before the hearing was temporarily dissolved.

The appearance of Braun, who is being watched closely in Germany and has once again highlighted the Wirecard scandal, increasing pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz ahead of the 2021 national elections.

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Ex-Wirecard boss tells lawmakers inquiry he won’t answer questions

The Wirecard collapse has embarrassed the German government, which boasts a reputation for rectitude and reliability, amid criticism that authorities have ignored red flags.

PRESSURE

Lawmakers told Reuters they hoped to learn of Braun’s contacts with German officials, especially a meeting in November 2019 with Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Kukies.

German authorities have rejected any suggestion of inappropriate government influence involving Wirecard. Braun also said that there had been no inappropriate behavior on the part of the officials.

Asked by Reuters on Thursday about Braun’s meeting with Kukies, the finance ministry referred to an earlier statement that it addressed topics such as allegations of market manipulation, as well as, more broadly, cryptocurrencies and the business model. payment companies.

Scholz, who heads Germany’s finance ministry and is responsible for regulator BaFin, has also been criticized for the authorities’ inability to take Wirecard to task, spending years probing critics of the company.

Scholz has since pledged to tighten financial controls.

The case also reached the German Chancellery, with the government saying Merkel raised a plan to acquire Wirecard in China during a visit to that country in September 2019 and that a senior official subsequently turned up. committed to supporting more.

In an official parliamentary response, the government said Merkel was unaware at the time of irregularities at Wirecard, which was dismantled after it disclosed a € 1.9 billion hole in its accounts in June.

Prosecutors have come under fire for not spotting any issues, but instead investigating reporters at the Financial Times, which first published allegations about its accounting.

Additional reporting by Joern Poltz; Written by John O’Donnell; Edited by Alexander Smith

Original © Thomson Reuters Corporation

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