Payment service provider Wirecard has soared for years that it even knocked out traditional Commerzbank from the German DAX stock index. However, the company is said to have systematically rigged its budgets over the years. When this was finally discovered, Wirecard had to file for bankruptcy at the end of June 2020. The former CEO, Austrian Markus Braun, has to respond for fraud charges.
The investigative committee set up in October worked for months on the incidents around the former DAX group and in particular examined the actions of the German government and its affiliated authorities. The parliamentary blocs noted above all the failure of the auditors and the German Financial Supervisory Authority.
However, opinions differed on the issue of political responsibility for the fraud scandal. That’s with Schultz, the head of the committee’s union block, Matthias Hauer (CDU), said. Hoyer said the minister should have “released” the secretary of state in charge of the department’s BaFin financial watchdog, Jörg Kukis. “Schulz doesn’t have that power.” He described the Wirecard scandal as a “multiple regulatory failure before the Treasury’s eyes.”
The audit firm EY, which is responsible for Wirecard, has also been highly critical of the union. Hauer said the Wirecard scandal was “a testament to the failure of auditors”. Committee member Fritz Goentzler (CDU) added that EY had “lost credibility” in the profession.
Hans Michlbach (CSU), deputy chair of the commission, said the final report “was not an acquittal” for Schultz – but the question of political responsibility was left out. “This is the unfortunate result of our alliance” with the SPD. The parliamentary bloc of the Social Democratic Party took a preventive stand in front of its candidate for the post of chancellor. Michelbach also complained that no one from politics had apologized or expressed remorse to the affected investors.
Speaking about the upcoming federal election, FDP Chairman Florian Thuncar said the Wirecard case is hurting Schulz’s political reputation “more than he admits”. Downplaying things and then saying little about them “isn’t the kind of guidance you need.” As the head of the left on the committee, Fabio de Masi, explained, the Wirecard case “still remains like a misfortune” for the Chancellor and Minister candidate.
The AfD called for Schulz’s resignation. He is the minister “in whose constituency most responsibility for the Wirecard scandal lies,” according to the party’s special vote. So it must be “disconnected”.
In light of Schulz’s criticism, the SPD, on the other hand, spoke of “campaign noise” and emphasized that there were no specific allegations. SPD chairman Jens Zimmermann complained that the topic of a gang’s “criminal activity” had moved too much into the background. Zimmermann said the Munich prosecutor’s office had “repeatedly received evidence,” but had not seen any initial suspicions against Wirecard.
The SPD stressed that the auditors had “failed massively” in Wirecard’s case. This is where “the crux of the Wirecard scandal lies,” said SPD committee member Kansel Kiziltepe. She added that audit firm EY could and should have “discovered balance sheet fraud”. However, to this day, EY is trying to stymie the commission’s work.
Recently, a former auditor tried to get his name out of the report in court. The final report is scheduled to be discussed on Friday in the Bundestag plenary session.