German politicians will open a full inquiry into the collapse of Wirecard, forcing the government to address questions over its failure to avert one of the country’s biggest corporate frauds.
Wirecard collapsed into insolvency in June and there have been growing questions over the failure of German authorities to pick up on numerous red flags.
The probe is likely to dominate German politics ahead of the Bundestag elections next year.
It could also cast a shadow over Angela Merkel’s final months as Chancellor, as fresh questions are raised over her lobbying for Wirecard in China last year.
“This was a fake company,” said Fabio de Masi, an MP for the hard-left Die Linke party, who has been central in launching the investigation. “We are not getting the answers we need.”
Wirecard collapsed after it disclosed a €1.9bn black hole in its accounts earlier this year.
Former chief executive Markus Braun and other executives have been held on suspicion of fraud, while former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek is on the run.
The decision to pursue a full investigation came after a series of hearings of the Bundestag’s finance committee. “An investigative committee is inevitable in order to acquire full access to the files,” said De Masi.
“The government has not succeeded in comprehensively and thoroughly clearing up the Wirecard scandal”, said Green MP Danyal Bayaz. “There are still a lot of questions and inconsistencies. That’s why we need an investigative committee, with a clear mission.”
The findings of the investigation could prove humiliating for Germany’s financial ministry, which oversees the financial regulator Bafin, as well as Germany’s anti-money laundering agency.