Economy & Politics

Guest Comment Wirecard – a stock market star built on lies

Wirecard bankruptcy: Financial regulators, media and investors have looked away too longimago images / Sven Simon

The worst-case scenario has occurred. After billions of dollars in air bookings and the arrest of ex-boss Markus Braun, Wirecard is at an end. A Dax company reports bankruptcy, for the first time ever. There are not enough superlatives to describe the epic dimension of this total loss.

There will be nothing left of Wirecard – except the memory of a gigantic balance sheet fraud. Analysts once predicted a price of over 200 euros for the German tech wonder from Aschheim. The stock is now well on the way to the penny stock. There is no noteworthy goodwill. The damage to the image is so great that a new beginning is only conceivable under a new name. The greatest hope in the New Economy has proven to be the largest air number in German stock market history.

Billions of capital destroyed, the money of many small investors wiped out, thousands of jobs lost. And what is even more devastating: like the diesel fraud at Volkswagen, the unscrupulous gambler deals from Deutsche Bank or the bribe system at Siemens, the Wirecard scandal once again shakes trust in the German financial center – and in the entire German economy.

The lying building collapsed

Solid finances, German engineering, honorable merchant virtue – this is how the German economy has become a role model worldwide. Trick, deceive, cover up – that was the Wirecard principle. The managers, above all the former CEO Markus Braun, have misled investors, analysts and even their own auditors. Even when the bomb that the group never had a quarter of its money, had long since burst and the bankruptcy was already in the air, investors still rocked it in false certainty: we have constructive talks with the lenders, all half as bad.

The Wirecard crash is a disaster with an announcement. Everyone was watching her, but nobody stopped her. Not financial supervision, which should have intervened much earlier and harder. Not the policy that, despite the financial crisis and endless investor scandals like S&K, Prokon and P&R, the Bafin has still not upgraded sufficiently. Not to critically report the German media, which were too cowardly, earlier. And certainly not the supervisory board or Wirecard boss Braun himself, who did not want to see the fraud or possibly even covered it up. He should have to answer for it in the only place appropriate to this historical crime: in court.

Only the journalists of the British “Financial Times” deserve the highest respect in this sad story. With their revelations, they brought the lie building in Aschheim to collapse. Only they had the courage to speak the truth uncompromisingly against all odds, as is their motto: “Without fear or favor”. The German media landscape has largely crawled in front of Wirecard, the group has silenced many journalists over long distances with lawsuits and threats. The signs that something in the balance sheet could be really bad could not be overlooked over a year ago.

The collapse of the stock market miracle is incredibly bitter. What could the company have achieved in an honest way: Wirecard had the technical know-how, the customers, and for a long time also the standing to one day take on the online giants from Silicon Valley and at the forefront in the future of fintech to take part. Instead, the abbreviation WDI is now an eyesore on the stock exchange table. By autumn at the latest, when Wirecard is likely to fly out of the Dax during the regular check, every remaining trading day will remind investors, stockbrokers, politicians and journalists. Hopefully they learn from it.

This text was first published by n-tv.

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