Wirecard investors may be asked to pay

Anyone who has lost money with Wirecard shares is now facing the next nasty surprise. Shareholders may have to repay their previous dividends to the liquidator.

An internal report suggests: Wirecard's insolvency administrator could claim back dividends that have been paid out.

FFor injured small investors, some of whom have invested their entire retirement provision in Wirecard shares, it is sheer mockery: According to a recently presented status report, insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé is planning to reclaim the dividends paid to them for 2017 and 2018. It should go to 47 million euros, reported the news agency Reuters. The money would then flow into the bankruptcy estate – from which the first priority creditors of the insolvent payment processor, such as banks, would be satisfied.

It is unclear what would be the case with the tax that was due on the distribution. When asked whether this might be reimbursed, a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Finance responded evasively: As a matter of principle, no comments are made on individual tax cases.

Action for annulment in Munich

The Munich lawyer Peter Mattil, who represents numerous small investors, spoke with a view to Jaffé of a strong piece and a “shock for the deceived shareholders”. This would then also have to demand back the interest paid to the banks, but that is not a question, criticized Mattil. The background is a lawsuit by the insolvency administrator at the Munich Regional Court I (Az .: 5 HK O 15710/20). With this, Jaffé wants to have Wirecard’s annual financial statements from 2017 and 2018 declared null and void. A judicial spokeswoman said that a process cannot be expected before autumn 2021. Jaffé could not be reached on Friday.

If the lawsuit is successful, the insolvency administrator could demand the dividends back because there is then no legal reason. The investor protection association DSW pointed out, however, that according to the provisions of stock corporation law, profit shares would only have to be paid back if shareholders knew or did not know due to negligence that they were “not entitled” to purchase. According to FAZ information, Jaffé will also find it difficult to assign the dividends to the shareholders. It is true that he has data from investors who have filed their claims in bankruptcy proceedings. This means that Jaffé does not have access to the custodians and clearing houses.

Obviously he is hoping for the investigations of the Munich I public prosecutor’s office. The investigators accuse Markus Braun, the former head of the scandal group, of fraud as a gang, among other things. “We are pressing ahead with the investigation with great pressure and open-mindedly,” said Senior Public Prosecutor Anne Leiding to the FAZ. Since June last year, almost 400 suspects and witnesses have been questioned, some of which have been questioned several times. The police and the public prosecutor’s office are required to carry out the process as quickly as possible. Braun has been in custody in Augsburg-Gablingen for almost a year. In a week, the next regular examination date at the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Munich is due, in which the judges will decide whether Braun will stay there or be released until a possible trial.

Bafin gets more competencies

In response to the Wirecard scandal, the Bundestag decided to strengthen financial supervision and balance sheet control. On Thursday evening, parliament voted by a majority for the law to strengthen financial market integrity (FISG). It should restore the trust in the German financial market that was shaken by the Wirecard machinations. Specifically, the financial supervisory authority Bafin has more competencies and rights of intervention.

The finance committee corrected the government bill in one important point: The balance sheet control is bundled at the Bafin. Originally there should be a coexistence of state financial supervision and private law auditing agency for accounting. In addition, the Bafin is given the right to inform the public earlier than before about its approach to auditing the balance sheet.