Big Frauds

Analyzing Wirecard case via temptation, opportunity, entitlement and boldness

Once a poster child for Germany’s fintech sector, Wirecard — along with its ambitious CEO — was exposed as a massive fraud that seduced investors. Learn how to analyze the case by emphasizing four attributes.

On June 18, Markus Braun, CEO and the largest shareholder of the German firm, Wirecard, updated employees and investors on the status of the company’s annual audited financial statements in a recorded two-minute YouTube video. True to his new “visionary techie” image, he was wearing a black turtleneck sweater, inspired by Steve Jobs’ signature look. However, the resemblance this time was closer to disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

Standing next to his speechless C-suite colleagues, Braun solemnly explained that the firm’s auditor, EY, couldn’t verify the existence of 9 billion euros in cash supposedly held by two banks in the Philippines.

“At present it cannot be ruled out,” Braun said in the video statement, “that Wirecard AG has become the aggrieved party in a case of fraud of considerable proportions.” (See "Wirecard says it cannot rule out ‘fraud of considerable proportions,’ ” Reuters, June 18.)

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