Briefing

Wirecard CEO out as search for billions turns up empty

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Markus Braun quit after Ernst & Young auditors said they couldn’t account for US$2.1 billion in cash on the German fintech’s balance sheet. The firm said roughly US$2.2 billion would be terminated if it failed to produce audited financial statements. The company’s shares have gone into a tailspin as a result, with its capitalization at less than US$5.6 billion from a high of US$26.8 billion. (CNBC, Reuters)

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Talking point: Founded thanks to a reverse merger in 2005, Wirecard was once ranked among Germany’s blue chips thanks in large part to aggressive expansion beyond the country’s borders, with an Asia-Pacific subsidiary and a footprint in the U.S. market. But the company reeled in the wake of a 2019 Financial Times investigation that detailed a litany of suspicious transactions, forged and backdated contracts and potentially fraudulent money flows on the part of a senior Wirecard executive.