Status: 21-09-2022 16:31 hrs
More than two years after payment processor Wirecard went bankrupt, ex-CEO Markus Braun will soon face court. The main allegation is commercial gang fraud.
In the largest fraud case in German post-war history, the criminal trial against former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun will soon begin. This was announced today by the Higher Regional Court of Munich (OLG). The Munich I regional court has allowed the Munich prosecutor’s office to indict Braun and two other former Wirecard executives without any changes.
The Higher Regional Court gave no details. It was initially unclear on which day the trial should start, how many witnesses should be called and how many trial days should be scheduled. The main allegation against the businessmen is commercial gang fraud. The maximum possible penalty for particularly serious fraud cases is ten years in prison. Braun has been in jail since July 22, 2020.
Accounting fraud, market manipulation, breach of trust
However, a conviction presupposes that the accused acted with full intent – there is no offense of negligent fraud. In the 474-page indictment, the prosecutor’s office accuses Braun, his former accountant Stephan von Erffa and former Dubai Wirecard governor Oliver Bellenhaus of accounting fraud, market manipulation, breach of trust in multiple cases and commercial gang fraud.
According to this, Braun and his accomplices have allegedly falsified Wirecard’s balance sheets since 2015 and damaged lending banks by a total of €3.1 billion – of which €1.7 billion in loans and another 1.4 billion in bonds. The economic criminal proceedings – one of the largest in German history – are being conducted before the fourth criminal chamber.
The process ahead is likely to be complex and lengthy. According to their own statements, the prosecutor’s office had identified and checked 340 companies, 450 people and more than 1,100 bank accounts as relevant to their charges. According to research by BR Wirecard’s payment flows show that the suspicion of money laundering is well-founded.
Biggest Financial Scam in Germany
The former DAX group collapsed in June 2020 after the audit of its financial statements revealed sham entries of almost two billion euros. The money is still missing today. Austrian ex-CEO Braun had protested his innocence in the past and dismissed the charges. He sees himself as a victim of criminal activity.
The former billionaire was ruined by the collapse of his company because he had invested almost his entire fortune in Wirecard stock. Not only banks and investors were harmed, but also tens of thousands of shareholders. After the rise to the DAX on the stock market in 2018, Wirecard was sometimes worth more than 20 billion euros – this capital has evaporated.
The alleged fraud damage of more than three billion euros in absolute figures and not adjusted for inflation exceeds all cases that have become known in Germany since 1945. The previous “record holder” was the Baden company Flowtex, which caused fraud damage of two billion euros in the 1990s with the sale of non-existent drilling machines. In the VW scandal, the follow-up costs for the Wolfsburg group were much higher, around 30 billion euros. But it wasn’t about financial fraud.