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Wirecard, Once Germany’s Pride, Turns National Embarrassment

  • Market regulator criticized after payment company’s stock rout
  • Finger-pointing erupts in Germany after repeated warnings
Markus Braun, former chief executive officer of Wirecard AG.

Markus Braun, former chief executive officer of Wirecard AG.

Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg
Updated on

The company once hyped as the future of German finance has become a symbol of national embarrassment.

After promising to shake up the world of payments, Wirecard AG saw its stock collapse and its chief executive officer resign after 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion), or about a quarter of its balance sheet, went missing. It subsequently withdrew its fiscal 2019 and first-quarter 2020 financial results after saying those funds on its balance sheet didn’t exist. That was a bombshell for Germany’s establishment after it defended Wirecard from critical investors who have long warned of accounting irregularities.