What is the connection between the bankruptcy of Wirecard, the resignation of the Austrian government and Novichok

What is the connection between the bankruptcy of Wirecard, the resignation of the Austrian government and Novichok
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13 July , 01:17
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Munich prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of 1.9 billion euros and the subsequent bankruptcy of the only German fintech concern with an annual turnover of 125 billion euros per year.

This is not only about money, but also about the connections of its top managers with the politics and special services of at least four countries.

Yelena Ivanova

Bankruptcy in Germany is very different from how it is treated in America. In the Anglo-Saxon world, bankruptcy is one way of reorganizing a business. For example, current President Trump has filed for bankruptcy 12 times. Trump did not get much: steaks were not for sale, vodka was not drunk, entertainment resorts were not popular, although they invested $ 2 billion in them. The university also failed, as did the baseball team, and the fashion magazine did not go. However, such blows of fate did not prevent Trump from becoming president.

In Germany, bankruptcy is a tragedy and a scandal at the same time. As it became with the only fintek concern, whose shares are traded in the top league of the German stock exchange - DAX . It is well known that the Germans are able to make cars, machine tools, equipment, build ships and planes. There was one in the financial service Wirecard, so they were proud of him, envied him, followed him, protected him. When the FT questioned the correctness of the annual reports, the same authorities that are now investigating the case against the concern and its management two years ago stood up on his chest to defend it. Prosecutors opened a case about undermining the business reputation of the concern by journalists. The omnipotent BAFIN , the Agency for Supervision of Banks and Financial Institutions, checked who benefits from the Wirecard downgrade and who ordered black PR for English reporters. Now the same people are trying to understand where the 2 billion euros went, and whether they were even on the company's accounts. And who will answer to investors who bought stocks counting on a calm old age. When bankruptcy became known on June 25, stocks crashed 80% in one day. Since April 2020, they have fallen in price by 98%. If in February a share was worth 140 euros apiece, then after bankruptcy its price was around 2 euros.

Every day more and more new details become known. At the center of the scandal are two top managers and the German state.

Former CEO Marcus Brown was arrested , but released on bail of 5 million euros. He is accused of manipulating annual reports - the main financial documents of companies whose shares are traded on exchanges. But last week it became known about new suspicions - cases of money laundering and misappropriation of money to the company. 315 million euros went offshore in Mauritius, whose authorized capital is 88 euros. Before the transfer of money, an Indian company bought it for 35 million. Where 280 million profits went while it was not possible to establish precisely. But traces lead to company management. In Asia, the concern did not have a license and worked with partners. He was transferred 250 million euros as a loan. There was no loan collateral. Inspectors are still waiting for a list of clients brought by Asian partners. Another 115 million was transferred to an oil trader in Singapore, who was also a Wirecard manager . Prosecutors are more and more inclined to the version that this money went to the top management of the company, or simply put, they were stolen by them. Half a billion euros is not the final result of the work of investigators.

Another company manager, Jan Marsalek, is on the run. At first, everyone thought that he was in the Philippines, in the same place as the “lost” 1.9 billion euros. But banks in Manila very quickly reported that they did not have Wirecard accounts , and accordingly, there was no money either. Masalek was last seen on the day of his dismissal at the company’s headquarters on June 18, from where he left - and disappeared. German authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest. They can’t find him, but there are more and more details about the life of a young man who at the age of 30 joined the board of directors of DAX and after 10 years is at the center of the largest fraud in the history of Germany. “James Bond is his ideal,” said his acquaintance. “And intelligence is his passion.” Masalek was spinning in the mysterious world of spies, special services, mercenaries and other dark personalities and at the same time was the COO (executive director) of the German concern. When he gave evidence to prosecutors in previous years, he was pleased to talk about the fact that he was “developing employees” and receiving incriminating dirt from foreign countries.

The Vienna newspaper Presse reports that Masalek obtained secret information from the Austrian counterintelligence service and passed it on to the leadership of the right-populist party FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party). In 2019, its chairman, Heinz-Christian Strache, was forced to resign because a video appeared on the press in which he proposed the half-Austria “niece of the Russian oligarch” in Ibiza in exchange for support for his party. On the same tape was his deputy - the best friend of Jan Masalik, who kicked him open the door to politics. Due to the scandal, the coalition, which included right-wing populists, broke up, new elections were held in Austria this year. But the scandal did not end - hearings in parliament will continue this week. FT writes that Masalek showed documents with the complete formula of the Novichok nerve poison, which poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia. In addition, journalists found a file with the Russian version of the poisoning, which Masalek showed to traders in London. The full version is given in the file, which states that the poison was not of Russian origin, but that it was produced at the British military laboratory in Porton Down.

At a meeting in Munich, Jan Masalek, according to FT , talked about plans to send his own detachment of mercenaries to Libya. Masalek wanted to recruit 15 thousand soldiers and arm them to the teeth. There is evidence that Jan Masalek flew to the stratosphere on a MIG-29 military aircraft. On the Internet you can find photos that show Masalek receiving the appropriate certificate.

His “presence in Manila” and “flying to China” also look a lot like a spy movie. Minister of Justice Phillipin Menardo Guevarra said: “Jan Masalek is not in the video surveillance files of those arriving in the country at the airport, but there was no flight on which he allegedly flew to China that day.” And three weeks after his disappearance, it is not clear where Jan Masalek is now. Theoretically, he could be in Asia, where he built a Wirecard business . He can also be in Russia, where he is well known. But it is possible that he is in Europe - or in some other country in the world.

But the German state is dealing with the disaster and is looking for the guilty. Outraged investors demand punishment for those responsible. They call the head of the Financial Supervision Agency or his deputies. Politicians are trying to understand how they control the business. Since Germany is a federal state, the federal states must be responsible for companies with headquarters. But Bavaria, in which Wirecard is located , does not have specialists of this level who can tack on the hands of "global players." When multinationals show success, they are the champions. When it is necessary to sweep shards and pay citizens, then the state is to blame.

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