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Former boss takes sides in Germany’s massive Wirecard fraud trial

origin 1Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun takes his seat in the courtroom before the continuation of the Wirecard trial begins. Peter Kneffel/dpa

Former Wirecard chief Markus Braun is expected to take sides in one of Germany’s biggest fraud trials in decades, allegedly involving billion-dollar frauds at the group that collapsed in 2020.

Wirecard was a payment service provider at the interface between credit card companies on the one hand and retailers and other vendors on the other.

Braun plans to give a two to three-hour statement in the Munich regional court before being questioned by the judges.

He and two co-defendants are accused of forming a criminal gang, falsifying the group’s financial statements and defrauding creditors out of 3.1 billion euros ($3.26 billion).

Braun denies the allegations. However, in the course of the trial so far, the prosecution’s star witness has made a number of powerful allegations against his former boss.

At one point listed on the DAX stock index and one of the highest flyers in German business, Wirecard went bankrupt in the summer of 2020 and filed for insolvency after the board admitted to allegedly bogus bookings amounting to 1.9 billion euros.

Many private investors lost large sums they had invested in Wirecard stock which became worthless overnight.

Many small shareholders had revered Braun as a visionary technology guru. Even Braun himself, who went from Wirecard’s largest shareholder to billionaire, went broke.

The trial started in December and is expected to last around 100 days.