Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun re-arrested and long-standing accused of fraud

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Former Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun was accused by Munich prosecutors of committing multi-year fraud and arrested a second time after the German payments group collapsed in June.

Prosecutors now suspect that Wirecard’s accounting fraud began as early as 2015 when Mr Braun and other suspects allegedly agreed to inflate Wirecard’s income in an attempt to deceive investors.

Once the flagship of the German tech industry, Wirecard collapsed last month after acknowledging multi-year accounting fraud and warning that the € 1.9 billion in cash on its books likely did not exist.

Investigators have broadened their investigation into the company’s downfall to include other former executives, prosecutors said at a press conference on Wednesday.

A Munich judge revoked Mr Braun’s € 5million bond after the investigation against the former chief executive and other former executives at Wirecard widened.

Former Wirecard CFO Burkhard Ley and the group’s chief accounting officer Stephan von Erffa have also been taken into custody, a spokeswoman for the Munich prosecutor’s office said.

The new arrests mean that four Wirecard employees have now been detained by German authorities. Earlier this month, Oliver Bellenhaus, the Dubai-based manager of a Wirecard subsidiary at the heart of the fraud, reported to prosecutors in Munich. A lawyer for Mr Bellenhaus said last week that Mr Bellenhaus “faces his individual responsibility – unlike the others”.

Jan Marsalek, the former chief operating officer, is wanted under an international arrest warrant. Mr. Braun has previously denied the wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say banks and other investors invested 3.2 billion euros in Wirecard in the following years. “Due to Wirecard’s insolvency, these funds are most likely lost,” the spokesperson said. “During interrogations, we were told of a strictly hierarchical system shaped by esprit de corps and pledges of allegiance to the chief executive as the leader.

Prosecutors said a suspect had turned into a primary witness and that person’s cooperation helped advance the investigation significantly.

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