June 25, 2020 / 10:14 AM / 11 days ago

Factbox: German payments firm Wirecard goes from boom to bust

(Reuters) - Wirecard said on Thursday it was filing for insolvency after disclosing a $2.1 billion hole in its accounts only a week ago, capping a swift demise for a company that expanded rapidly over two decades to become a member of Germany’s blue-chip share index.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim near Munich, Germany April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Following are some key facts about the company and pivotal dates in its recent history:

* Founded in 1999, Munich-based Wirecard has 5,800 employees in 26 countries around the world. It processes digital payments for both consumers and businesses and reported revenues of more than 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in 2018, more than triple the figure from 2014.

* Wirecard’s expansion was driven by its long-serving chief executive and leading shareholder Markus Braun, an Austrian who led the company since 2002 until he resigned last Friday.

The company was promoted to Germany’s blue chip index in September 2018 when it ousted Commerzbank. At its peak it had a market valuation of around $28 billion.

* In Feb. 2019, Singapore police said they were looking into reports by the Financial Times of alleged financial irregularities at Wirecard’s local office, allegations that had driven its shares sharply lower.

* In Oct. 2019, Wirecard rejected any impropriety after the Financial Times published documents on the company’s accounting practices which it said appeared to indicate an effort to inflate sales and profits.

* An independent investigation by auditor KPMG published in April this year found Wirecard did not provide sufficient documentation to address all allegations of accounting irregularities made by the Financial Times.

Wirecard said the KPMG audit had not uncovered any incriminating evidence to support allegations it manipulated its accounts and it would not restate its accounts for the years 2016 through 2018.

* On June 5, Munich prosecutors searched Wirecard’s headquarters and opened proceedings against the payment company’s management board as part of a market manipulation probe initiated by financial regulator BaFin.

Prosecutors said the company was suspected of having issued misleading information which may have impacted Wirecard’s share price between March 12 and April 22.

* On June 18, Wirecard’s auditor EY refused to sign off its 2019 accounts over the missing $2.1 billion, sending its shares down more than 60% as the company warned the delay could cause billions in loans to be called in.

* CEO Braun quit on Friday, June 19, as the search for the $2.1 billion of missing cash hit a dead end at two banks in the Philippines and the company scrambled to secure a financial lifeline from its banks.

* Wirecard’s crisis deepened when it said on Monday that the missing sums it had booked in its accounts likely never existed. Chief operating officer Jan Marsalek is fired.

* Former boss Braun was arrested on Monday night on suspicion of falsifying Wirecard’s accounts after Munich prosecutors issued a warrant. Braun was released on Tuesday after posting 5 million euros ($5.7 million) in bail.

($1 = 0.8885 euros)

Compiled by Keith Weir; Editing by Edward Taylor

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