Wirecard apparently involved in fraud with Corona aid. The Bavarian state government maintained good contacts with Wirecard – and let the scandalous company help it process corona aid applications. At least 30 cases are now suspected of being fraudulent.
Wirecard apparently involved in fraud with Corona aid
After the federal government, the Bavarian state government is now being criticized for its proximity to the insolvent former Dax group Wirecard. This spring, when the suspicions against Wirecard were already increasing, the government around Prime Minister Markus Söder sought help from Wirecard in the corona crisis.
In retrospect, this seems like the logical consequence of an approximation over the past few years. Since 2014, several ministers of state have been accompanied by Wirecard managers on trips abroad or have met with them in other ways. The last meeting of this kind took place on November 20, 2019 in the State Chancellery between Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann and the then CFO of Wirecard, Alexander von Knoop. Knoop’s predecessor Burkhard Ley was also there, acting as a consultant for Wirecard. According to the state government, it was purely an introductory meeting.
Minister Aiwanger still raved about Wircard in May
A few months later, Herrmann’s cabinet colleague Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) relied on Wirecard in the corona crisis. The Minister of Economic Affairs had applications from companies for emergency aid from the Free State initially handwritten, Wirecard should now digitize them so that they can be processed more quickly and the money can flow to the companies more quickly. From April 16, 2020 to May 8, 2020, Wirecard digitized around 6,000 emergency aid applications, according to the answer from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to a request from the Greens in the state parliament.
Wirecard provided the service free of charge, and Minister Aiwanger raved in mid-May that “Wirecard’s support” was greatly appreciated. At this point in time, the group had sorely needed to do something to improve its image. Two weeks earlier, the auditing company KPMG had presented a devastating final report on a special audit that weighed heavily on Wirecard. The report showed that the auditors had not been able to get rid of the accusation of accounting fraud, which had been repeatedly raised before.
It is now known that the public prosecutor was already investigating money laundering at Wirecard Bank at this point in time – of all things in connection with Corona emergency aid. The bank subsidiary of the group is said to have issued so-called virtual IBANs to fraudsters who apparently wanted to use them to sneak or obtain corona aid without authorization.
It works like this: A financial service provider set up a collective account at Wirecard Bank and received virtual IBANs from it, which it issued to customers mostly located abroad. These transferred illegally received corona aid to the virtual accounts, from where it flowed to the collective account and further abroad. Money laundering was made easier because the bank did not save the usual data for customer identification for virtual IBANs.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, around 50 emergency aid applications are known so far, which have been submitted via virtual accounts of the Wirecard Bank, have now been reported to the State Criminal Police Office and forwarded to the public prosecutor. After review, around 20 cases have now been paid out, according to the ministry. The remaining 30 cases are under investigation. At the request of the Bavarian Greens, the Ministry of Economic Affairs did not provide any information on the extent of the state aid allegedly obtained by fraud with the help of Wirecard.
For Tim Pargent, financial policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament, it is “extremely questionable why the Söder government had its mistakes” in the application process for Corona aid “ironed out by Wirecard of all people” – despite the investigations that were already ongoing at the time. “The fact that Wirecard is now involved in the fraud with the emergency aid leaves a dubious impression of the judgment of the responsible minister of economics, Aiwanger,” criticized Pargent.