“They looked for reasons not to take action”

“Collective supervisory failure”, “not fit for the Internet age” – in the final report to the Wirecard investigation committee, the opposition passed a devastating verdict.

Lonely: Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD), here at the end of April before the Wirecard investigative committee.

Dhe opposition sees the Wirecard scandal as a “collective failure of supervision”. The scandal was also made possible by a “political network” and the longing for a digital national champion, according to a special vote by the FDP, the Greens and the Left on the final report of the Wirecard committee of inquiry in the Bundestag.

There have been “collective failures” by the supervisory board, auditors, supervisory and investigative authorities, it is said. These findings could now feed into class action lawsuits from retail investors.

“Not fit for the Internet age”

Above all, the financial supervisory authority BaFin and the Munich public prosecutor’s office believed until the end that Wirecard was a “victim of evil market powers”. In addition, Germany’s supervisory authorities are unsuitable for adequately assessing digital business models. “German supervisory authorities are not fit for the Internet age,” it says in the vote.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD), as finance minister, was politically responsible for the failure of BaFin: “Instead of looking for ways to act on the supervisory board, you looked for reasons not to act.”

Wall auditors

The three opposition parties also expressed clear criticism of Wirecard’s long-term auditor EY. “The examination activities were simply inadequate.” A critical attitude was never discernible, although the alarm signals had become greater and greater over time. There was a lack of evidence for large parts of the business activity and confirmations for alleged trust accounts in the billions. EY also bricked the U-Committee. Serious damage was done to the job description.

The now insolvent payment service provider Wirecard admitted in the summer of 2020 that 1.9 billion euros could not be found on the balance sheet. The public prosecutor’s office is investigating balance sheet falsification, fraud, market manipulation and money laundering.

The faces of the committee of inquiry: Danyal Bayaz (lr, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen), Fabio De Masi (Die Linke) and Florian Toncar (FDP)
The faces of the committee of inquiry: Danyal Bayaz (lr, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen), Fabio De Masi (Die Linke) and Florian Toncar (FDP): Image: dpa

The Bundestag’s committee of inquiry should investigate whether state supervisory authorities and the federal government have done too little to investigate suspected cases at Wirecard earlier and more decisively.

FDP chairman Florian Toncar said on Monday that authorities had to intervene earlier and that the government had also failed. The Green politician Lisa Paus said: “It was a multi-billion dollar failure of the authorities.” Left chairman Fabio De Masi said that there was not only a sleepiness among the supervisory authorities, but that they had taken sides in favor of a “German stock market miracle”.

The special vote states that the committee of inquiry was necessary to break up a “cartel of silence” of those who would have liked to conceal their failure under the label “accounting scandal”. The Wirecard scandal is much more than a balance sheet scandal. It is about the biggest stock market and financial scandal of the post-war period.

The work of the committee of inquiry is not over yet, further witness interviews are planned for this Tuesday.