By Dan Byrne for AMLi
AN INVESTIGATION AWAITS the head of the German auditor watchdog after it emerged that he traded shares in online payments company Wirecard, just weeks before it collapsed.
Ralf Bose, Chief Exeutive Director of the German audit regulator APAS, is understood to have engaged in multiple transactions involving Wirecard stock right before the company filed for insolvency in June 2020.
In his role as APAS head, Bose was involved in the monitoring of professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY), which handled Wirecard’s accounts for years.
Last month, it emerged via letters from APAS to prosecutors that EY itself was potentially guilty of violating legal due diligence when it came to auditing Wirecard, although EY has since released a statement rejecting this, saying their colleagues “conducted the audits professionally and in good faith”.
The Wirecard insolvency arrived at the tail-end of what became a vast global scandal involving allegations of corruption, resignations, and criminal searches.
The company’s reputation plunged into chaos in early 2019 when the Financial Times reported that a senior executive was guilty of falsifying accounts and money laundering.
Efforts to cover their tracks proved unsuccessful when, in June 2020, the company was forced to disclose that €1.9 billion in previously claimed monetary assets were “missing”, forcing the resignation of then-CEO Markus Braun.
Following this, share prices tumbled 72%, and Bose is now understood to have traded in Wirecard stock right before this price collapse.
At a German parliamentary investigative committee hearing, CDU representative Matthias Hauer called the revelation “strong stuff,” and said that “such behaviour cannot remain without consequences for [Bose] personally.”
The German economic minister Peter Altmaier pledged to launch an investigation. He advised that he had just learned overnight of the allegations against Bose and said that he would “discuss the matter with the people involved.”
Although Bose reportedly admitted to trading Wirecard shares at this parliamentary meeting, there is no evidence so far that his actions broke any rules, and APAS itself has not commented.
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