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Exclusive: German market watchdog bans staff from trades in wake of Wirecard

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, September 22, 2020. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's financial watchdog BaFin is banning its staff from trading shares and other securities of the companies that it oversees in the wake of the Wirecard WDIG.DE accounting scandal, a senior finance ministry official told Reuters.

German regulatory officials bought and sold Wirecard shares in ever higher volumes as the payments company edged towards collapse, the German government has revealed, prompting criticism of the agency that polices finance.

Deputy finance minister Joerg Kukies said the aim was to restrict the trading activities of BaFin employees so that they can make decisions free of conflicts of interest.

“This is a good and necessary step,” Kukies said.

The finance ministry had disclosed that one fifth of BaFin staff had engaged in some kind of investment activity in 2019 and 2020, with an increasing interest in Wirecard in the months ahead of its collapse.

The ban affects not only shares, but also bonds and derivatives of the companies BaFin supervises, as well as all EU financial companies.

BaFin is overseen by the finance ministry.

Reporting by Christian Kraemer; Writing by Tom Sims; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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