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Company News

Timeline: How Germany's Wirecard fell from grace

(Reuters) - Payments firm Wirecard's WDIG.DE collapse has prompted a German parliamentary inquiry after the former stock market star's disclosure in June of a 1.9 billion euro ($2.3 billion) hole in its accounts triggered its insolvency.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim near Munich, Germany, July 22, 2020. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File Photo

The following timeline summarizes the major developments.

2020

April 28: Independent investigation by KPMG finds Wirecard did not provide sufficient documentation to address all allegations of accounting irregularities made by the Financial Times.

May 25: Publication of final 2019 results postponed for a third time.

June 18: Auditor EY refuses to sign off Wirecard’s 2019 accounts as it was unable to confirm the existence of 1.9 billion euros in cash balances on trust accounts, representing around a quarter of its balance sheet.

June 19: CEO Markus Braun quits as Wirecard’s search for missing cash hits a dead end in the Philippines and it scrambles to secure a financial lifeline.

June 22: Wirecard says that 1.9 billion euros it booked in its accounts likely never existed.

June 23: Braun is released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of falsifying company accounts.

June 25: Wirecard files for insolvency, owing creditors almost $4 billion.

June 29: A Munich court appoints Michael Jaffe to manage the insolvency of Wirecard.

July 1: Police and public prosecutors raid Wirecard’s HQ in Munich and four properties in German and Austria.

July 2: The head of Germany’s financial watchdog calls the accounting scandal “a massive criminal act”.

July 9: German state prosecutors start investigating individuals at Wirecard for suspected money laundering.

July 16: The former head of a Dubai-based subsidiary of Wirecard, admits wrongdoing to prosecutors for his role in a multi-billion-euro fraud.

July 22: German prosecutors arrest three former top executives of Wirecard.

Aug 3: German body in charge of regulating auditors examines the work of EY, Wirecard’s auditor.

Aug 12: Deutsche Boerse DB1Gn.DE changed its rules, effectively expelling Wirecard from Germany's blue-chip index DAX .GDAXI.

Aug 25: Wirecard lays off more than half of remaining staff in Germany.

Sept 1: German lawmakers launch parliamentary inquiry

2019

Jan. 30: Wirecard denies a Financial Times (FT) report that an executive had used forged and backdated contracts in a string of suspicious transactions that raised questions about the integrity of the company’s accounting practice.

March 28: Wirecard sues FT (reut.rs/2X9I8qS)

Oct. 21: Wirecard hires KPMG to conduct an independent audit to address allegations by the FT that its finance team had sought to inflate reported sales and profits.

BACKGROUND

1999: Wirecard founded in Munich.

2002: Markus Braun, previously a KPMG consultant, becomes Wirecard CEO. [reut.rs/2WZDgER]

2005: Wirecard listed on the Deutsche Boerse Frankfurt (Frankfurt Stock Exchange), Prime Standard segment.

2006: Consolidation of Wirecard Bank AG.

2007: Wirecard Asia Pacific established.

2010: Jan Marsalek appointed Chief Operating Officer.

2016: A negative report by short sellers Zatarra Research alleges fraudulent activity at Wirecard, saying senior executives have committed money laundering offences, as well as defrauding Mastercard and Visa. [bit.ly/39HDepW]

2018: Wirecard joins blue chip market index Deutscher Aktienindex (DAX), making it officially one of the 30 most valuable German companies on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange

Reporting by Tommy Lund, Jagoda Darlak and Bartosz Dabrowski; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Tomasz Janowski and Alexander Smith

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