With Netflix’s ‘Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard’ chronicling the incredibly baffling impropriety surrounding the titular German fintech startup, we get a true insight into every facet of the matter. After all, this original documentary utilizes both first-hand accounts as well as archival footage to really chart not only the company’s global standing but also its executives’ alleged wrongdoings. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about its former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Markus Braun, in particular, we’ve got the necessary details for you.
Who is Markus Braun?
There was once a time Markus Braun was considered inspirational owing to the way he built Wirecard into what appeared to be a payment processing giant, just for the truth to turn out much different. The Austrian native had actually earned a degree in Commercial Computer Science and a Ph.D. in Social and Economic Sciences before he found his calling, yet this firm was not his beginning. He’d kickstarted his career as a consultant while pursuing his doctorate (1996-2000) and was thus working at KPMG in Munich, Germany, when he first came across this corporation for a project.
However, a mere year later, in 2002, Markus officially joined Wiretech and took over the reins as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technology Officer, as well as a member of the management board. The self-described visionary then seemingly transformed it into a pioneering business in the world of online transactions and financial services, only for its entire growth history to be fraudulent. There were accounting malpractices done at every step of the way for years before it came to light in 2020 that half of its revenue and its proclaimed €1.9 billion ($2.3 billion) cash reserve didn’t even exist.
Where is Markus Braun Now?
Markus publicly resigned from his post once news of Wirecard’s actuality broke on June 18, and then he surrendered to the police on June 22 upon hearing there was a warrant against him. He was detained “on suspicion of accounting fraud and market manipulation,” but was released on a €5 million ($5.7 million) bail just a day later; he was arrested again on July 22. We should mention that despite the fact the company filed for insolvency on June 25, 2020, the former executive reportedly still owns more than 7% of its shares and had earned €5.5 million ($6.3 million) in dividends.
Coming to the accusations against Markus, Munich public prosecutors formally charged him with fraud, breach of trust, as well as accounting manipulation on March 14, 2022. They believe he knowingly signed off on incorrect financial statements from 2012 to 2018 and had falsely signified that an external audit by KPMG would exonerate Wirecard of all public allegations. The latter is because the company actually failed to submit the required documents regarding its third-party businesses to the audit team, according to the official announcement.
As if that’s not enough, per the prosecutors, when Markus initially surrendered, he allegedly confessed to a scam involving manipulating numbers to look more appealing to investors and customers alike. The former CEO thus faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted following his trial — he’s currently awaiting the same at the Augsburg-Gablingen prison after pleading not guilty. We should mention Markus continues to maintain his innocence by asserting he’s a victim of fraud himself, affected by none other than his mentee and fellow Austrian Jan Marsalek.
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