‘Not me!’ Angela Merkel denies lobbying for disgraced Wirecard during trip to China
Wirecard: Expert on unanswered questions from regulatory panel
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced questions yesterday over her involvement in one of the biggest corporate scandals in history. Merkel faced questioning from a German parliamentary inquiry as to why she continued to promote scandal hit German payment processing company Wirecard abroad in 2019 despite a raft of allegations the company was acting unlawfully before it collapsed. In June 2020 Wirecard announced €1.9 billion in cash was missing from its coffers. Merkel told an inquiry how a trip to China in 2019 to promote the company was before she knew of allegations but commentators have branded the denial as “fingerpointing” and questioned the legitimacy of her and other politicans claims as a number of politicians have already resigned over the scandal.
Merkel told the closed-door parliamentary committee that the September 2019 trip to China came before there was reason to assume problems with Wirecard other than ‘speculation’.
She added how Germany often promotes and lobbies its countries’ businesses overseas and that Wirecard was given “no special treatment” by her government on the trip to China.
Merkel said: “Despite all the press reports there was no reason at the time to assume there were serious irregularities at Wirecard.”
The German Chancellor went on to further defend her promotion of Wirecard during the trip despite the scandal exposing ties between politics and business and led to the resignation of several German politicians as well as kickstarted a wave of criminal investigations.
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But speaking to DW News business reporter Chelsey Delaney said: “Well I think the biggest question and one that hasn’t really been answered in a satisfying way is how so many people who have responsibility, who had regulatory oversight over Wirecard, just didn’t take these reports that have been around since 2015 seriously.”
Delaney added: “We have seen a lot of people saying that it wasn’t their job to raise these concerns about Wirecard.
“BaFin the financial regulators, the accounting regulators, everyone is pointing fingers.”
But the business reporter questioned those giving evidence at the inquiry saying “it’s a little bit hard for these parliamentary inquiry members to believe that nobody, in the years there were many reports about inconsistencies, were able to raise the flag on these concerns.”
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Ms Merkels appearance to give evidence marks a key point in the inquiry with many arguing it has wrecked Germany’s reputation for following rules.
She added that the scandal at Wirecard was a “slap in the face of hundreds and thousands of honest businessmen” in Germany given their reputation on the world stage.
Prosecutors on the inquiry accuse former CEO Markus Braun of having run a criminal racket that conducted “fraud in the billions”.
Braun who is still being detained by cops denies wrongdoing.
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Wirecard collapsed in 2020 after it couldn’t account for 1.9 billion euros of listed assets.
The companies accounting holes had been widely reported in the Financial Times for a number of years before increasing speculation began in the middle of 2019.
Former Wirecard CEO Christopher Bauer, 44, was found dead in the Philippines in July 2020 following the scandal.
His death certificate said he died of natural causes in a hospital in the Philippines capital Manila.
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