Ztwo and a half years after the spectacular bankruptcy of the former stock market darling Wirecard, its former boss is standing Markus Brown in court from December. The mammoth fraud process before the Munich I Regional Court is likely to drag on into 2024, especially since Braun rejects complicity in the alleged billion-dollar fraud at the payment processor and sees himself as a victim. The proceedings before the 4th Greater Criminal Chamber will start on December 8th. This year, hearings are to take place over six days in the city’s largest courtroom within the walls of the Stadelheim prison. For 2023, the district court scheduled a further 94 days of negotiations on Wednesday.
The district court had the lawsuit against the 53-year-old Braun and two other ex-managers of Wirecard admitted in September as requested by the prosecution. The Austrian has been in custody since July 2020. In the 474-page indictment, the prosecutors accuse Braun, his chief accountant Stephan von Erffa and the governor of Wirecard in Dubai, Oliver Bellenhaus, of accounting fraud, market manipulation, breach of trust in several cases and commercial gang fraud. The economic criminal proceedings are likely to be one of the largest in German history. Presiding judge is Markus Födisch.
“Supposedly extremely profitable business, especially in Asia”
The former Wirecard shareholders are also hoping that the process will provide clarification on how the insolvency could come. The prosecutors see Braun as one of the main culprits for years of accounting fraud, which resulted in a billion-dollar bankruptcy in June 2020. Until the bankruptcy, Wirecard was listed in the leading index Dax and was at times worth more than Deutsche Bank on the stock exchange. Braun and his managers have worked for years to make the company appear more successful than it actually was. “To this end, they allegedly invented extremely profitable businesses, especially in Asia,” says the indictment submitted in March. The balance sheets for the years 2015 to 2018 are fake.
Wirecard had to admit in June 2020 that there had never been a sum in the billions that was allegedly in the account of a trustee in Singapore. The auditors at Wirecard, EY, had also trusted in the existence of the money for years. Insolvency administrator Michael Jaffe also assumes that it never existed.
According to his defenders, the long-time Wirecard boss Braun sees himself as a victim of a gang “that has embezzled millions behind his back”. Money laundering could be involved. The company processed online betting and internet pornography transactions for years. Braun’s accusation is apparently aimed at former board member Jan Marsalek, who was responsible for the supposedly successful Asian business and left shortly after the bankruptcy. He is wanted with an international arrest warrant, according to media reports he lives in Russia.