German police have raided the home and office of former Wirecard chief Wolf Matthias, as a criminal investigation widens into one of Europe’s biggest accounting fraud cases.
Officers searched the 76-year-old’s office in Frankfurt and his home in a suburb of Germany’s financial center on Tuesday.
Munich police suspect Matthias may have been aided in the embezzlement by Wirecard’s management, according to people familiar with the investigation. It is not clear if prosecutors are also investigating other former supervisory board members.
The infamous payments company was once hailed as a rare German tech success story. It disintegrated within a week last summer after discovering a €1.9bn cash gap in its balance sheet.
Matthias, a former senior banker at Credit Suisse in Germany and other lenders, was President of Wirecard for more than a decade from 2008. While resigned as president In early 2020, he remained as a board member until the company’s collapse.
He also served as President of Wirecard Bank, a subsidiary of the Munich-based payments group.
Matthias oversaw Wirecard’s rise from a small payments company to a stock market giant that at its peak was worth more than €24 billion and replaced Commerzbank in Germany’s Dax index.
However, the business that accounted for half of the company’s revenue and all of its profits were fictitious.
Three former Wirecard managers, including former CEO Marcus Brown, who denies wrongdoing, have been in police custody since last summer.
Munich prosecutors confirmed the raids but declined to comment further. Holger Matt, Matthias’s Frankfurt-based lawyer, declined to comment.
Matthias was called twice as a witness by the German parliament’s investigation committee into the scandal but he apologized for health reasons.
After the Financial Times in October 2019 Published documents Which cited a concerted effort to fraudulently inflate sales and profits at Wirecard, Matthias rejected calls for an independent audit.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he called the public discussion about Wirecard’s potential accounting issues a “nuisance” and defended EY’s auditor’s work. We have endless stories [about Wirecard], three a day. I did not look at them in more detail. He said, just days before Wirecard commissioned Big Four KPMG to conduct an independent audit of the allegations that led to Wirecard’s demise.
Matthias resigned as President of Wirecard in January 2020 and was succeeded by former Deutsche Börse CFO Thomas Eichelmann, who joined the board in mid-2019.
When he resigned as president, Matthias said it was “a special honor for me to accompany this extraordinary company and its management team for the past 11 years”, claiming that Wirecard had achieved “a story of growth and success unparalleled in Germany’s modern economic history” and was “a pioneering company.” operate internationally.