Economy & Politics

ExclusiveThe strange loans from the Wirecard Bank

Wirecard headquarters in Aschheim near Munich: until the bankruptcy in summer, the group was a payment service provider with an affiliated bankdpa

Today Jan Marsalek is on the run. He is on Interpol’s wanted list and is suspected by some in Russia. But until June of this year, the 40-year-old Austrian was probably the second most powerful man at the now bankrupt Wirecard AG, a payment service provider with an affiliated bank.

Wirecard has given investors and banks losses of around EUR 20 billion. Marsalek is targeted by prosecutors as the possible head of a gang of fraudsters. Now the “Stern” and were able to evaluate previously unknown internal documents that show how Marsalek directed the outflow of funds at Wirecard in 2018 and 2019 – via the Wirecard bank, for which he was actually not responsible and which was under the supervision of the state control authority Bafin. In spite of this, Marsalek was able to provide the Wirecard Bank with loans amounting to millions, for example to a Luxembourg company with backers in Russia. It was money, much of which one apparently never saw again.

At the end of last year, Aviatec Holding Luxemburg, which controlled the Russians Shamil I. and Leonid A., was already considered to have lost 6 million euros. In the reporting system of the Auditing Association of German Banks, Wirecard Bank is “already conspicuous due to high payment arrears on some borrowers, e.g. Aviatec ”, the auditing company KPMG stated in December 2019.

On March 11, 2019, Marsalek had made a note of his abrupt signature at the Group’s own bank for the borrowers: “In view of the company’s shareholder structure and the overall business development of the Russian subsidiary, the management has no doubts about the repayment of the loan as well as the repayment of the required interest payments, ”wrote Marsalek.

As early as 2018, detailed reports with allegations of fraud against Shamil I, a former barman and later confidante of the Putin-loyal governor of the Ulyanovsk region, appeared in the Russian press. Shamil I. even headed the representation of this region in Moscow for a time, which is why the audit firm EY classified him as a “politically exposed person” – someone with whom you had to be particularly careful in the lending business. At times, his Luxembourg company was apparently also involved in a joint project with the state armaments company Rostec, which manufactures Pantsir air defense systems in Ulyanovsk – and is on the US government’s sanctions list. Shamil I. now controls a company in Geneva and has an Italian passport. That should please Marsalek as the alleged holder of various passports.

Marsalek had campaigned for the Russian’s Luxembourg company because it owned a subsidiary in Russia called Skytec, which allegedly offered services for airlines and had “an extensive and successful business relationship” with Wirecard. But already in August 2019, all board members of the supposedly so reliable company in Luxembourg had resigned. And towards the end of the year it was discovered at the Wirecard bank that the Luxembourg company had sold its Russian subsidiary – allegedly to an unknown buyer. According to the information provided, the stake “was sold to a third party without the knowledge of the bank,” said a bank manager in January 2020 to auditors from KPMG, who carried out a special investigation at Wirecard on behalf of the supervisory board. “Various attempts to establish contact” have failed.

In fact, the sale had apparently already taken place at the end of 2018 – before Marsalek referred to the supposedly flourishing business in his memo. The buyer was a Florida company that also had men from Russia in the background – and Marsalek also mentioned this company, called Comepay, in internal papers. Wirecard Asia Holding in Singapore, which operated under Asia boss Marsalek, even gave Comepay a loan of 2.5 million dollars in April 2019.

Millions for a company in Libya

In addition to Russia, Marsalek was particularly interested in Libya, a country of civil war; He is even said to have planned his own mercenary troops there. He also campaigned for the Wirecard Bank for a company that was allegedly active in Libya, in two memos in January 2018 and January 2019. The company had not made interest payments? That could be due to “the very restrictive handling of foreign payments by the Libyan central bank,” wrote the manager. In a list of the Wirecard Bank from September 2019, the loan of three million US dollars was listed as “defaulted” after a payment delay of 458 days – that is, as a default, just like the one for the Luxembourg company of the two Russians.

As the parent company of the bank, Wirecard AG had secured the loans for both of them with a guarantee. She did the same for a loan of 8 million euros for the coach company of a German business partner in the Philippines who died in the summer. That man was of great importance for the group and its Asia boss Marsalek: In addition to his bus company in Manila, he also ran one of the companies through which Wirecard ran significant parts of its alleged business with third-party partners in Asia. Today it is clear that much of it did not exist.


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