Review of the Wirecard committee: campaign noise or real outrage?

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A quarter of a year before the federal election, the members of the Wirecard investigative committee take stock – or rather: several balances. The CDU, CSU and SPD contribute to the final report, there is also a joint special vote of the opposition parties FDP, Left and Greens and one of the AfD’s own.

What they all have in common is the indignation over the alleged fraud of the payment service provider in the billions and the embarrassing question of how the company got away with it for years. The chairman of the left-wing parliamentary group in the committee, Fabio De Masi, was amazed at “this billion-dollar lie, this Wirecard illusion factory”.

As at the start in October, the Union is releasing a substantial part of its responsibility from the Ministry of Finance from the SPD candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is responsible for Bafin’s financial supervision. The SPD, in turn, refers to the role of the auditors, who have certified Wirecard’s balance sheets for years – the CDU-led Ministry of Economic Affairs is responsible for the Apas supervisory authority.

The now insolvent Wirecard AG admitted last summer that the 1.9 billion euros listed in the balance sheet could not be found. The Munich public prosecutor’s office assumes a “commercial gang fraud” since 2015. The accounting scandal caused high damage to investors because the share had crashed. The committee of inquiry should investigate whether state supervisory authorities and the federal government have done too little to investigate suspected cases at Wirecard earlier and more decisively.

The fact that the party book could have played a role in their conclusions from the Wirecard scandal was rejected by the Union and the SPD. “It must also be possible to name political responsibility without being directly accused of election campaign noise,” said the union chairman in the committee, Matthias Hauer (CDU). “The political responsibility is borne by Olaf Scholz and the Federal Ministry of Finance.”

The SPD committee member Cansel Kiziltepe had probably heard that, who said in a later press conference about the allegations: “I consider this to be the Union’s campaign noise. Olaf Scholz bears no political responsibility for the Wirecard scandal.” The focus of her party colleagues on the role of the auditors, who came from the company EY in particular, was “not a political calculation”, but arises from the conviction that this is the core of the scandal.

“EY could and should have determined the balance sheet fraud,” emphasized Kiziltepe. The fact that the auditors approved Wirecard’s balance sheets for years strengthened trust in the company. Not only the Greens chairwoman Lisa Paus missed the “critical attitude” among the EY auditors. On Tuesday, an ex-examiner failed before the Berlin Administrative Court in an attempt to prevent the publication of passages in which his actions were viewed critically.

There was agreement across party lines on the so-called short sale ban, which the Bafin had issued in February 2019. This prohibited speculation on falling Wirecard prices. The Bafin is therefore accused of giving shareholders the wrong impression that everything was okay at Wirecard, although there had already been reports of irregularities. “The short sale ban was a mistake,” admitted the SPD chairman in the committee, Jens Zimmermann – at least in retrospect that was clear.

The FDP chairman in the committee, Florian Toncar, summed up: “I think it is a big annoyance for many citizens that in the end, when there are such scandals, there is no one who stands up and admits their own mistakes.” The committee chairman Kay Gottschalk from the AfD demanded Scholz ‘resignation and complained about the “Pattex-adhesive force” of some politicians who stuck to their chair.

The affair had consequences. This gives the Bafin additional powers and regulations for auditors are tightened. Now the responsibilities for the balance sheet control are bundled at the Bafin. Bafin employees are no longer allowed to trade in certain financial products themselves. The previous two-stage procedure with the German Audit Office for Invoicing will be simplified. In addition, auditors must change after five years at the latest so that they do not become operationally blind. You will also be held more liable.


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