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Wirecard ex-CEO arrested in Germany after mystery of missing funds

The Austrian has been chief executive of the payments company since 2002

Wirecard ex-CEO arrested in Germany after mystery of missing funds

Wirecard's former chief executive Markus Braun, who resigned last week, has been arrested in Germany after €1.9bn was found to be missing from the company's balance sheet.

The Munich prosecutor's office said Braun turned himself in overnight and will be appearing before a judge on Tuesday.

Austria-born Braun, who has been CEO since 2002 and owns a 7% stake in the company, is being spoken to as part of an investigation into Wirecard's finances, where total assets and sales volume were inflated “through feigned income from business”.

Last Thursday, auditors EY refused to sign off on the company’s 2019 accounts as they could not verify the existence of €1.9bn that Wirecard claimed was being held in trust accounts in Asia.

Braun resigned on Friday when two Philippine banks that were supposed to have the cash said that Wirecard was not even a client.

“There is a prevailing likelihood that the bank trust account balances in the amount of €1.9bn do not exist,” the German payments specialist said in a statement on Monday.

James Freis, who had previously been appointed as head of Wirecard’s new Integrity, Legal, and Compliance department, has taken over as interim CEO of the group.

Wirecard has provided the financial backbone for countless fintech companies including Monzo, Revolut, Loot, Curve, Funding Circle, Atom, Tandem and Pockit.

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