Wirecard CEO Denies Allegations in Historic German Fraud Case

Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun repudiated the claim that he was a part of a “criminal gang” on Monday, testifying in a Munich courtroom for the greatest financial fraud trial in post-war Germany. This is the first time the 53-year-old Austrian has spoken at length in public since his 2020 arrest due to the dramatic disintegration of the fintech giant.

Dressed in his usual black blazer-turtleneck combo, Braun vehemently denied any knowledge of counterfeiting or embezzlement that preceded Wirecard’s collapse. He lamented the unexpected “day of pain” that followed the revelation of a $2 billion black hole on its balance sheet, expressing his “profound regret” for its employees and shareholders.

Braun stands together with two other former Wirecard executives, Oliver Bellenhaus and Stephan von Erffa, facing charges of market manipulation and “gang-related fraud.” His legal team has disputed the testimony of Bellenhaus, the government’s star witness, and instead pinned the blame on the company’s former COO Jan Marsalek.

Marsalek, believed to have connections to Russian intelligence, escaped Germany as Wirecard crumbled and is now one of the world’s most wanted fugitives. Braun admitted to admiring Marsalek and having a role in his progression to the board. He also stated that he had wanted to fire Bellenhaus when he went on vacation during a KPMG audit.

The trial is expected to last until 2024, and each defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.