At the trial of the Wirecard scandal, settling of accounts between defendants

At the trial of the Wirecard scandal, settling of accounts between defendants

The trial of the Wirecard financial scandal turned on Monday in Munich to the settling of accounts between the defendants’ lawyers, former directors of the company, who are passing responsibility for the bankruptcy…

The former CEO of the German company Wirecard, Markus Braun, during his trial on December 8, 2022 in Munich (All rights reserved. © (2022) Agence France-Presse – CHRISTOF STACHE)

The trial of the Wirecard financial scandal turned on Monday in Munich to the settling of scores between the defendants’ lawyers, former directors of the company, who are taking responsibility for the bankruptcy of the former German star of electronic payments.

Wirecard went public in June 2020, after its executives admitted that 1.9 billion euros of assets, supposedly in accounts in Asia, did not actually exist (All rights reserved. © (2022 ) Agence France-Presse – Christof STACHE)

Main suspect before the Munich court, Markus Braun, former CEO of fintech, denies any wrongdoing and blames two former traveling companions: Stephan von Erffa, former chief accountant, and Oliver Bellenhaus, former director of a subsidiary based to Dubai.

The former CEO of the German company Wirecard, Markus Braun (d) and his lawyer Alfred Dierlmann, at the Munich court, December 8, 2022 (All rights reserved. © (2022) Agence France-Presse – CHRISTOF STACHE)

“We have a Wirecard triumvirate sitting in the dock, even if one of them as Julius Caesar stabs the others in the back,” said Mr. Bellenhaus’ lawyer, Florian Eder, equating Mr. .Braun to the ancient Roman emperor.

The Munich court has been judging the three defendants since last Thursday for the offenses of accounting fraud, market manipulation, particularly serious breach of trust and organized fraud.

Wirecard sank on the stock market in June 2020, after its leaders admitted that 1.9 billion euros in assets, supposedly in accounts in Asia, or a quarter of the balance sheet, did not actually exist.

The court has scheduled 100 days of hearings to try to shed light on this unprecedented financial scandal in Germany, which has splashed the economic and political world.

– Judged in advance –

Mr. Bellenhaus has already admitted fraud during the investigation and the prosecution has made him its “key witness”.

The prosecution thus sees Mr. Braun as a gang leader within a company which has deliberately enlarged its balance sheet by means of fictitious transactions in Asia, in order to remain attractive to investors.

Mr. Braun’s lawyer, Alfred Dierlmann, sharply counter-attacked on Monday these accusations against a client “judged in advance” as “never seen in 30 years of experience”.

Activity with third parties in Asia and the Gulf region, at the center of the scandal, did exist, claimed the lawyer. He cites as proof of the payments “from companies in the digital sector in the broad sense” relating to at least “one billion” and which have been “documented from 2016 to 2020”.

But the court has not been interested in it to date, he lamented.

Also, a “very large part” of these sums were “transferred to phantom companies”, asserted the lawyer, who pointed to the responsibility of Mr. Bellenhaus.

In detail, the money arrived in the amount of “750 million euros” on “four embezzlement companies” housed on the island of Antigua and which were “mainly under the control of Mr. Bellenhaus. »

The latter was indeed at the head of a “gang whose sole purpose was to embezzle large sums of money”, according to Me Dierlmann.

His crimes committed, the head of the Dubai subsidiary “deleted (entries on) large-scale transactions so that they could no longer be traced”, he continued.

Markus Braun, on the other hand, believed in the existence of this money “until the end” and “none of the 450 witnesses” questioned during the investigation designated him as a fraudster, according to his lawyer.

– Key witness –

“Wirecard AG was a sham” and Mr. Braun “is not a victim”, retorted in turn Me Eder in court.

Mr. Braun’s lawyer deploys “a smokescreen” to cast doubt on his client, he said.

The credibility of this defendant as a key witness is a key issue in the trial.

Stephan von Erffa’s lawyer, Sabine Stetter, has spoken of a “dubious key witness” about the former Wirecard manager in Dubai.

A few days before his statement to the prosecution, he deleted his account with the Telegram messaging service as well as a number of e-mails, said the lawyer.

The lawyers of Messrs. Braun and Erffa believe that Mr. Bellenhaus only incriminated their clients in order to obtain a reduced sentence.

Very offensive, Me Dierlmann on Monday filed a request to stop the trial due to numerous alleged irregularities. The court will give its answer at the earliest on Thursday.

jpl/smk/nth