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Chris Bryant

Wirecard's Bean Counters Are in Trouble Again

Investors rightly wonder why the accounting giant Ernst & Young didn’t realize something was amiss earlier. Auditors need to step up.

Proper scrutiny.

Proper scrutiny.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Whenever there’s a sudden and high-profile corporate failure — and there’s been a lot of them lately — the focus turns almost immediately to how on earth the auditors failed to spot the problem sooner. The collapse of German electronic-payments provider Wirecard AG is following that customary post-scandal script with depressing precision.

The reaction of regulators and Wirecard’s bean counters, Ernst & Young, has at times been an alarming exercise in blame-shifting. It’s doubtful whether Germany’s proposed remedy — placing oversight of financial reporting under the auspices of BaFin, the hapless German markets supervisor that has its own questions to answer over the Wirecard saga — will prevent something similar happening again.