Could Wirecard have been exposed before? – Deal

Commerzbank has long been one of Wirecard’s most loyal supporters. In the spring of 2018, Germany’s second largest private bank even organized a € 1.75 billion loan from 15 banks, to which it contributed 200 million. When Wirecard went bankrupt in 2020, the money was gone. Not only have the authorities and auditors failed: Wirecard could have been caught sooner if the banks had also seriously followed the warnings.

On the right track

Commerzbank’s fraud department was on track in 2018: incidentally, they suspected a Wirecard transaction in 2015. At that time, an Indian sold his company to a newly founded fund in Mauritius for € 35 million. , after earlier Jan Marsalek, having been on the board of Wirecard, had had contact. The fund, in turn, sold the company to Wirecard about four weeks later for € 315 million, a completely unusual increase in value. When the matter became known shortly before the loan was granted in 2018, Commerzbank suspected the fund in Mauritius was being used for the self-enrichment of Wirecard’s management. The bank called its anti-fraud department to investigate. He asked Wirecard; Discussions also followed at executive level, but Wirecard downplayed, the loan was approved, including by Marcus Chromik, Chief Risk Officer. In the parliamentary committee of inquiry that dealt with the bankruptcy, he later stated that the credit had been granted and that further analysis by the fraud department was no longer “credit material”.

pornography and gambling

Acting Consciously with Integrity: This was what Commerzbank’s code of conduct required when it granted the loan. Even then there were indications that Wirecard was involved in funding porn and gambling. Apparently, this hasn’t deterred the bank. Why not? Commerzbank declined to comment on this, even “no recognizable violation of internal regulations”.

escaped

Banks are required to closely monitor their borrowers. It is therefore customary, although not mandatory, for financial institutions to require companies to view the so-called audit report. In these non-public reports, examiners explain their work and often contain valuable insights into difficulties. But to Wirecard of all places Commerzbank gave up like most other banks also during the inspection of the report, entrusted to certification and rating. According to statements by the commission of inquiry, the auditors have at least reported irregularities in their reports since 2015. Why didn’t the institute take a deeper look at Wirecard of all posts? The bank was under no obligation to do so, he told the general meeting.

Alarming tone

Even after the loan was granted in the spring of 2018, the bank’s fraud department did not give up. In February 2019 he found what he was looking for and the Money House sent 345 cases of suspected money laundering on Wirecard payments to the competent authorities in an “alarming tone” – according to the responsible public prosecutor of Munich. million euros. Period: August 2012 to January 2019. Commerzbank, as correspondent bank of Wirecard Bank, had transferred these payments, among others, to the group’s branches. The prosecutor identified suspicious reports he later proved extremely useful in investigations. Just: Why did Commerzbank’s suspicious anti-money laundering payments only appear in 2019, and what does it say about the bank’s control mechanisms? The Money House does not want to comment on this upon request.

Eating out

After all: according to Chromik, Chief Risk Officer, the suspicious reports led the board of directors to decide in early 2019 to terminate the business relationship and thus also the credit link to Wirecard: a “gradual exit” was planned. , as explained to the commission of inquiry, that is, a “creeping end”. But why didn’t Commerzbank then sell the loan to another lender, as is customary in these cases? Why did the bank leave the search for a new lender to Wirecard, which, according to Chromik in the commission of inquiry, had not kept its promises in the past? It was contractually stipulated that the bank would personally look after a replacement if it did not want to continue its loan. This is what the contract, which is available to the SZ, shows. Apparently, the board has done nothing about it. And Wirecard let things go, preferring to seek out new, successful lenders instead of replacing old ones. Why, then, didn’t the chief risk officer at least push for the purchase of derivatives to hedge credit risk, as Deutsche Bank has successfully done, for example? She was able to limit her losses to € 18 million, although she had previously granted even more credit than Commerzbank. The “termination prospect with Wirecard” was “risk-appropriate and therefore justifiable,” Commerzbank said.

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