The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) collaborated with the bankrupt fintech company Wirecard from 2013 to 2020 and used their credit cards during the investigation of crimes. It is reported by the Financial Times.
According to the publication, Wirecard issued about a third of the credit cards that BKA employees used to pay bills during investigations. The company issued the cards in fictitious names and provided them free of charge.
“At some point we will become BKA’s own bank,” Alexander von Knop, Wirecard CEO Alexander von Knop, wrote in an email to colleagues that the FT reviewed.
Knop’s personal involvement in the issuance of counterfeit credit cards has not been confirmed.
The investigation of the case found that Wirecard cards were also used by the German foreign intelligence service, “although to a much lesser extent than the BKA.”
“We have no evidence that Wirecard misused the payment information it received. However, cooperation with BKA helped the company improve its image, as it sought to position itself as a reputable partner of government agencies, ”added the investigators.
BKA said Wirecard Bank AG supported them in their job duties, including through the provision of bank accounts and credit cards.
In parallel, an investigation is ongoing in relation to the auditing company Ernst & Young (EY), which has been checking Wirecard balances for more than ten years.
The special investigator has identified about 11 cases in which EY failed to take action to uncover a multibillion-dollar fraud, writes Bloomberg.
According to the investigation, the quality of the documents submitted to EY was inconclusive, since they were based on oral and written statements by the company, and not from neutral third parties, such as banks.
The investigator also noted that EY approved Wirecard’s 2016 annual report, although it identified about 20 problems during the audit, some of which significantly affected the balance sheet accounts:
“EY signed this report based on late responses from the Wirecard board, without taking any steps to obtain documentary evidence.”
Recall that in June 2020, a hole in the balance sheet of almost 2 billion euros was found on Wirecard accounts . Later, the company began bankruptcy proceedings .
Former Wirecard CEO Marcus Brown has been arrested on suspicion of falsifying company account balances.
Former Wirecard executive Jan Marsalek, known to be the mastermind behind the accounting fraud, went into hiding a few days before the Munich prosecutor’s office issued a warrant for his arrest. A former high-ranking official of the Austrian secret service and an ex-deputy from the right forces were arrested on suspicion of organizing his escape .
Marsalek’s whereabouts are still unknown. After some information, he fled to the territory of Russia .
In June, the German Shareholders Association SdK filed a lawsuit against EY . In August, the investigation of fraud against an audit firm, initiated in October 2019, became a full-fledged one .
In late July, Wirecard investors filed a lawsuit against the German Federal Financial Supervision Authority (BaFin) , accusing the regulator of overdue measures taken against the company. Later it turned out that Commerzbank warned BaFin about Wirecard manipulations in early 2020 , but the regulator did not take any action.
In January 2021, a BaFin employee was convicted of insider trading in Wirecard stock .