Wirecard Loses $8.3 Billion in Three Days on Fraud Allegations

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Wirecard AG fell the most in more than a decade on Friday after a report that a law firm found evidence of alleged forgery, the latest fraud allegations to beset the digital payments company.

The 25% plunge — the worst since July 2008 — capped a tumultuous three days that shaved about €7.2 billion ($8.3 billion) off the company’s market value, despite repeated denials of wrongdoing.

On Friday, the Financial Times reported that an external law firm commissioned by Wirecard found evidence indicating “serious offenses of forgery and/or of falsification of accounts.” Rajah & Tann LLP lawyers identified potential civil and criminal violations in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Germany, findings that formed the basis of a presentation to Wirecard’s senior management on May 8 last year, the newspaper said, citing the law firm’s report.

Wirecard denied the story, calling it “inaccurate, misleading and defamatory.”

“It is untrue that Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP has ever uncovered any findings of material misconduct of any Wirecard employee in matters of accounting practices,” Wirecard said, adding that no presentation was made to senior management on the matter on May 8 last year.

Representatives for Rajah & Tann didn’t immediately return calls and emails seeking comment outside regular business hours. The firm is among Wirecard’s legal advisers and regularly conducts “compliance and governance related advisory work,” the payments company said.

Read more: As Wirecard Gets Bigger, So Does the Target on Its Back

Wirecard earlier this week denied claims made in another FT story that alleged executive fraud originating at the Singapore office, fueling concerns about the fast-growing company’s business practices. The stock closed 13% lower on Wednesday.

Past Claims

German financial regulator BaFin is looking into the allegations for signs of possible market manipulation. On Friday, BaFin spokeswoman Anja Schuchardt said the regulator is at the beginning of its investigation and will take the new report into account.

Founded in 1999, Wirecard initially provided financial services to online gambling and adult websites, barely surviving the dot-com bust. After a decade of growth, the company last year replaced Commerzbank AG in Germany’s benchmark DAX index.

It’s not the first time Wirecard has had to defend its reputation. The shares plunged after past claims were published about accounting irregularities in 2008 and fraud allegations in 2016. But analysts have stayed true to the company, with 79% recommending investors buy the stock, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

-published Feb 1, 2019, 12:04:35 PM, by Stefan Nicola (Bloomberg).

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