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02/08/2019

06:00 PM

Bafin opens probe

Wirecard's Singapore office searched by police

By: Jeremy Gray, Christian Schnell, Leonidas Exuzidis

Shares in the payments service giant nosedived again as its Asian operations were raided over possible accounting fraud. Germany's financial watchdog is investigating the stock's gyrations.

Reuters

Master of creative payments.

Singapore police searched the local office of German payments specialist Wirecard on Friday, following up on reports of financial wrongdoing at the company.  

An erstwhile stock-market darling, Wirecard, a member of Germany’s blue-chip DAX index, said it had helped to initiate the search with Singapore police. Documents were handed over for the investigation following a meeting between police officers and the firm's local managers, a spokeswoman for the company said.

"We are seeking the same direct contact with the Singapore police as we’ve had with [German financial watchdog] Bafin and the public prosecutor's office in Germany," she said. The company said it was cooperating fully with authorities from both countries to clear up the case.

While public prosecutors in Munich said they see no cause for a criminal investigation of Wirecard employees, both the prosecutors and Bafin confirmed that they are probing a possible manipulation of the company’s share price following its steep fluctuations over the past 10 days.

After the Singapore search became public, Wirecard's share price tumbled as much as 16 percent on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Friday. It has shed over 40 percent of its value in less than two weeks.

Stock plummets: Wirecard hit by report of accounting and contract irregularities in Asia

Stock plummets

Wirecard hit by report of accounting and contract irregularities in Asia

The Financial Times cites documents describing potential fraud and money laundering at the German payments firm.

Wirecard again slammed accusations of financial irregularities reported by the Financial Times on January 30 and several times thereafter, calling them "defamatory." The FT initially wrote that a senior Wirecard manager was suspected last year of covering up suspicious transactions by forging and backdating contracts, and went on to report that there was evidence of falsified accounts and inconsistencies in payment processing. Wirecard said that it will sue the newspaper.

An external assessment of the company’s books by commercial law firm Rajah & Tann will be published in four to six weeks, Wirecard said, adding that a Singapore police report on the case may also be ready by then. The company will then thoroughly review its internal processes, it said.

Jeremy Gray is an editor for Handelsblatt Today. Christian Schnell covers finance and the auto industry for Handelsblatt. Leonidas Exuzidis is a contributor to the publication. To contact the authors: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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