Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun was apparently not a big fan of compliance.
During court testimony Wednesday (June 8), a panel of judges in Braun’s fraud trial heard that the ex-chief executive told his general counsel that compliance was “crap” and unnecessary for the now-defunct payments company.
As the Financial Times reported, Judge Markus Födisch read out testimony Andrea Görres gave to prosecutors soon after Wirecard collapsed, including that Braun had told her during a private meeting that he did not want a compliance team because it was “unnecessary and crap.”
Görres confirmed the basics of her testimony but noted that she could no longer recall Braun’s exact words. “But that was his general attitude [with regard to compliance].”
Braun and a pair of other former Wirecard executives are charged with fraud, embezzlement and market manipulation following the downfall of their company.
He surrendered to German prosecutors in 2020 on a warrant as an investigation unfolded into 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) found missing from Wirecard’s balance sheets. At the time of Braun’s surrender, he allegedly admitted to a scam involving others that manipulated figures to appeal to investors and customers.
He was formally charged last year, along with Oliver Bellenhaus, a one-time managing director of a Wirecard subsidiary based in Dubai, and Stephan von Erffa, chief accountant and deputy chief financial officer.
Founded in 1999, Wirecard was once considered one of Germany’s most significant technology success stories and among Europe’s most promising tech firms. The company was valued at 24 billion euros at the height of its success, with a global workforce topping 6,000 in 26 countries.
According to the FT, Braun has denied any wrongdoing and has painted himself as an advocate for greater controls and compliance at his company.
He has said that contentious contracts that were approved by him and other board members had been examined by Wirecard’s legal department.
Görres disputed that claim, the FT said, telling the judges that her dozen-member team lacked the resources for truly thorough checks.
The trial is happening at a time when the financial world is dealing with a glut of fraud, prompting regulators to up their oversight of bank-FinTech relationships, as Kiran Hebbar, chief financial officer at identity decisioning platform Alloy, told PYMNTS recently.
That means that both parties may need to reexamine their fraud-fighting capabilities, Hebbar said, as fraud prevention efforts of yesteryear can no longer keep up with the level and nature of modern-day fraud.
For example, rules-based fraud detection and prevention platforms, a longtime fixture among fraud mitigation measures, are simply outmatched by the volume and growing sophistication of attacks, he said.