A year and a half after the collapse of the Wirecard Group, the Munich public prosecutor’s office brought the first charges in what is believed to be the largest fraud scandal of the post-war period. It is not a Wirecard manager who is accused, but a minor figure: A former business partner of Jan Marsalek, who went into hiding, is said to have embezzled 22 million euros from the group coffers together with him, as the Munich public prosecutor announced.
The accused is said to have diverted eight million euros from this embezzled money for himself. First had the Southgerman newspaper reported. The public prosecutor accuses the man of 26 particularly serious cases of money laundering combined with fraud in a particularly serious case and false accounting.
Suspicion of venture capital as money laundering
According to investigations, Marsalek, the accused and other accomplices wanted to invest the 22 million Wirecard embezzled into German start-ups via an investment company and thus conceal the criminal origin of the funds – hence the money laundering allegation. Contrary to what was agreed with Marsalek and Co., the accused is said to have spent eight million euros on the purchase and conversion of a house in Munich and his own offices in Switzerland.
Now the Munich district court must first decide whether to admit the charges. Marsalek has been in hiding since the summer of 2020 and is believed to be in Russia. The former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, who has been in custody since then, has not yet been charged. The Munich Higher Regional Court, which is responsible for the detention checks, recently made it clear that it expects Braun to be charged by March.
Fraud victim Markus Braun?
The investigators accuse Braun and other former Wirecard top managers of gang fraud. They are said to have invented non-existent sales in the billions in order to systematically swindle loans and investor funds. The fraud damage could have reached a record sum of three billion euros.
However, the first charge against the former Marsalek partner illustrates how complicated the affair is. So it doesn’t seem out of the question that those involved did criminal things together on the one hand and cheated one another at the same time. What CEO Braun says about the allegations by the public prosecutor’s office has not yet been made public.
However, in a recent civil case before the district court about the allegedly falsified Wirecard balance sheets, it became clear that Braun may still see himself as a victim. The first indictment at least suggests that the Marsalek, who went into hiding, managed to put away large sums of money from the company on his own account, also according to the assessment of the public prosecutor. Should the allegations of the public prosecutor’s office be substantiated, Braun and Marsalek could ultimately have been fraudsters as well as those who were deceived by their own accomplices.