Wirecard Prosecutors Charge Suspect in Fraud Investigation

Wirecard Prosecutors Charge Suspect in Fraud Investigation

The case against one of the largest accounting frauds in Germany, Wirecard, received an update Thursday after prosecutors said they charged a former business associate of Jan Marsalek, Reuters reported.

Charging a Minor Player

Munich prosecutors announced they charged a business associate of ex-Wirecard executive Jan Marsalek on December 21. The unnamed individual became the first person to receive charges in the course of the multi-billion fraud investigation.

Despite having previously denied any wrongdoings, the man was charged with 26 counts of money laundering related to his participation in a scheme aimed at laundering €22 million ($25 million) of embezzled funds at the collapsed payments company.

The charged man has also allegedly misappropriated at least €8 million ($9 million) of the funds embezzled by Marsalek and his accomplices. His lawyer declined the media requests for comments.

“The defendant is accused of buying and renovating private real estate and to have founded and funded his own family offices in Switzerland.”

According to the prosecution, another man named Rami El O was also involved in the scheme to embezzle the funds and then launder the money by investing in German startups. The other man is also under investigation for his role in the scheme, prosecutors outlined.

Rounding the Main Figures

Prosecutors also said they expect by the end of March to raise charges against the ex-Wirecard chief executive officer and largest shareholder Markus Braun who has been for 18 months in custody, claiming to be a victim of Marsalek and determined to prove his innocence.

The main actor, Marsalek, who is accused of orchestrating the sophisticated scheme that has been running for years, disappeared from the public eye since Wirecard filed for insolvency admitting that €1.9 billion ($2.1 billion) of cash and half of its revenues did not exist. A lawyer for Marsalek also declined to comment.

The missing funds were discovered after charges against two men in Singapore were filed last year, claiming they had falsified documents to show hundreds of millions of euros held in bank accounts on behalf of the payments company.

These documents turned out to be part of the scheme that allowed Wirecard to claim that half of its revenues were coming from payment processing companies based in Singapore, Dubai, and the Philippines, revenues that did not exist.

Bringing first charges in the high-profile fraud case is a small step ahead for the prosecutors but the relatively minor role played by the man accused at this stage shows prosecution is still far from rounding the main players.