Ex-CEO of Germany’s Wirecard Denies Charges at Fraud Trial

BERLIN (AP) — The former CEO of payments company Wirecard denied having known anything about false accounting at the firm as he testified Monday at his trial over its collapse in 2020.

Wirecard was long the darling of Germany’s fintech scene until it filed for insolvency, saying that 1.9 billion euros ($2 billion) that had been on its balance sheet could not be found. The case exposed flaws in the country’s financial oversight bodies.

Ex-CEO Markus Braun, along with two other former managers, is charged with fraud amid allegations that much of Wirecard’s revenue and assets were faked.

“I had no knowledge of falsification or embezzlement,” Braun told the Munich state court, German news agency dpa reported. Of the missing 1.9 billion euros, Braun said: “I had no knowledge of this money being misappropriated.”

It was Braun’s first testimony since the trial opened in December. There are no formal pleas in the German legal system.

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Prosecutors allege that Braun signed off on financial reports he knew were false. The firm allegedly booked nonexistent revenue it attributed to multiple partnerships in other countries and used fake documents to show it had funds that it did not, they contend.

The fraud cost banks 3.1 billion euros in loans and writedowns, according to prosecutors.

One of the central figures in the case, the company’s former chief operating officer, Jan Marsalek, remains on the run.

Braun’s lawyers have said that he was unaware of machinations by others.

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