Regulators get busy; the Swiss miss the point; and wrangling over returnees. Here's our Daily Briefing on February 19, 2019.
Source: picture alliance/dpa
Wirecard is all over the news and for all the wrong reasons. Germany’s financial regulator banned short selling of the company’s shares after a the fintech lost billions in market value. A January FT report suggested accounting inconsistencies. Wirecard provides payment services and is a posterchild for a cashless society in Germany, where notes and coins still rule.
The regulatory intervention – Bafin’s first for a single company – runs through April 18 and has some wondering whether that was necessary; a hedge fund wants to sue.
The last time Bafin took such a step was during the financial crisis, when it moved to protect 11 bank stocks. Meanwhile German authorities are reportedly investigating the Financial Times journalist who reported on the accounting regularities. So far, the only beneficiary is the Wirecard share.
Germany's financial watchdog takes an unusual step to protect what is seen as one of the most promising upstarts in Europe's biggest economy.
While a journalist in the UK may be in the hot seat, in Switzerland it’s an attorney. Switzerland is suing a German lawyer for uncovering one of the largest tax-avoidance scandals in Germany. It’s cost the taxman up to €12 billion and in thanks, Eckhart Seith could spend more than three years in jail, charged with industrial espionage. The case involves whistleblowers, lawyers being tracked to Mallorca and is ultimately a test of Switzerland’s legal system.
A German attorney faces an unusual trial in Switzerland for exposing a financial scandal involving J. Safra Sarasin, the Basel-based lender.
Trump’s call for Europe to take back returning IS fighters exposes differences in how Western governments deal with their citizens. A report last year suggested more than 41,000 people from 80 countries joined IS in Iraq and Syria between April 2013 and June 2018.
In Britain, people are divided over Shamima Begum, the young woman who left Britain as a schoolgirl for Syria. Germany must also decide how to handle returnees as Kurds in Syria call on Berlin to take back imprisoned IS fighters who are German passport holders.
Iraq has been grappling for longer than Europe with the question of what to do with its own citizens who supported Islamic State terror. Could the Iraqi example help Germany find solutions to this vexing problem?
That has some asking whether those returnees are still Germans, having fought for a foreign army. After Nazi abuses, rescinding citizenship was all but forbidden in the new German constitution – unless someone fights for a foreign army.
Politicians have been debating for months how to handle the issue. While the media focus has been on European countries, my colleague Cathrin Schaer looked at how Iraq handles IS members. Her conclusion: Germany needs updated laws.
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