The Vice Chancellor dismisses the allegations against him as an “absurd fairy tale”: Neither the financial supervisory authority nor the Ministry of Finance had held a protective hand over Wirecard.
EIn three quarters of an hour later than announced, the penultimate witness appears in the Wirecard committee: Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister of Finance and SPD candidate for Chancellor. That makes things explosive from the start, Scholz is responsible for financial supervision. He presents himself as “deeply relaxed” – that was his first audible word on Thursday in the committee.
The processing of the biggest financial scandal in the history of the Federal Republic by the Bundestag is of course not just a sober compilation of facts about it, as a group of top managers around Wirecard boss Markus Braun and board member Jan Marsalek, who are accused of commercial gang fraud by the public prosecutor, for so long could pursue their predatory activities undisturbed.
Even before the start of the meeting, the announcers of the committee members showed that their investigation has an enormous political dimension – which is hardly surprising in an election year. One party defended Scholz, the other parties attacked him. The Greens MP Danyal Bayaz found the nicest formulation: Scholz no longer gets the tap closed, as often as he washes his hands in innocence.
The attestations always reassured me
In his opening words, the finance minister said he was happy to be able to do his part to clarify the situation. It is probably the biggest scandal of accounting falsification in Germany. A high level of criminal energy had been acted upon. Frauds were not discovered for eleven years because the responsible auditors did not detect any irregularities; Investors, public prosecutors, stock exchange regulators and investors have been deceived. Scholz: “The federal government is not responsible for this large-scale fraud.”
The Bafin is responsible for financial supervision and has acted within the scope of its possibilities. It is now clear that the control structure was not sufficient. He, Scholz, responded last summer with an action plan and other measures. Many investors would have lost a lot of money. Trust in the financial center has also been lost. Although there were indications of irregularities quite early on, the auditors’ certificates always reassured me.
It is an “absurd fairy tale” that Bafin or the Federal Ministry of Finance held a protective hand over Wirecard, says Scholz. He found out about the ban on short selling for trading in Wirecard shares via the news ticker.
What the defense line of the Federal Ministry of Finance looks like, his State Secretary Jörg Kukies had already sketched out the day before in the committee: There was no intervention in favor of Wirecard as national champion, and no influence was exercised on individual decisions by the financial supervisory authority Bafin. This also applies to the particularly controversial short sale ban with Wirecard shares.
At most a kind of quality control
This had deceived many investors, they had understood this as a kind of seal of approval for the company from Aschheim near Munich and fatally invested in the supposed hope value in the Dax. Investors who took reports of irregularities at the payment processor seriously and did not trust the balance sheets were thwarted by the ban on short selling.
As the top official von Scholz explained in his one-and-a-half-hour introductory presentation and the questioning that dragged on into the night, there was a tension between European law, which prohibits intervention in individual decisions by the financial supervisory authority, and German legal and technical supervision.
This latent conflict is basically resolved in the ministry in such a way that the specialist department in the house reviews the measures taken by the Bafin. The superiors only checked whether this had gone smoothly. At best, this is a kind of quality control. Political influence should be prevented in this way.