Wednesday 24 June 2020 10:19 am

Former Wirecard boss Markus Braun released from custody, says lawyer

Former Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun, who was arrested on suspicion of falsifying the company’s accounts and market manipulation, has been released from custody.

Braun was released after paying his bail of €5m (£4.5m), his lawyer told Reuters. A German news agency had earlier reported that the former boss of the payments company had been released on Tuesday, citing a court spokesperson. 

The 50-year-old Austrian, who quit Wirecard after 18 years last Friday, had turned himself in to Munich prosecutors on Monday evening. 

He is accused of misrepresenting the payments company’s accounts and of market manipulation by falsifying income from transactions with so-called third-party acquirers.

Wirecard became embroiled in scandal after a whistleblower alleged that the company owed some of its success to a web of sham transactions. 

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Wirecard said on Monday that a missing €1.9bn it had booked in its accounts likely never existed, after auditor EY refused to sign off on its 2019 accounts as it was unable to confirm the existence of the transactions. 

The scandal has also hit the reputation of Germany’s financial watchdog, Bafin. 

Felix Hufeld, head of Bafin, has described the crisis as a “total disaster” and conceded that his agency and others had made mistakes.

“It is a scandal that something like this could happen,” Hufeld said.

Bafin has filed a fresh complaint against Wirecard with prosecutors, alleging that the company’s admission that billions were missing from its balance sheet shows that it misstated its financial position from 2016 to 2018.

Singaporean ride-hailing company Grab said today that it had put a partnership with Wirecard on hold in the wake of the scandal. 

“We have not begun business integration work on the Wirecard partnership and we are pausing the partnership till further notice,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

The two firms had struck a deal in March under which Wirecard was to process transactions made via the GrabPay e-wallet, starting with markets in Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. Wirecard had not yet started processing payments for Grab.