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Opinion

Don’t blame Lithuania for Wirecard woes

Naysayers were swift to condemn Lithuanian involvement in the German scandal.

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When the Financial Times revealed in May that a large chunk of the money that went missing from Wirecard weeks before its collapse may have passed through a Lithuanian payments company, it prompted an immediate reaction.

Across Europe, a disorderly queue quickly formed of those dying to say: “I told you so.” This included, but was by no means limited to, politicians in Berlin and Vilnius and regulators elsewhere on the continent.

The speed with which they jumped on the story was telling. Ever since Lithuania began inviting fintechs displaced from London by Brexit to relocate to Vilnius back in 2016, many have predicted that it would end in tears for reasons that are not entirely clear. As the number of fintechs in the country has multiplied – to more than 230 at the last count – so has the chorus of naysayers.

As the number of fintechs in the country has multiplied... so has the chorus of naysayers

Much of this unease seems to stem from a vague feeling that Lithuania will eventually get caught up in the money laundering scandals that have engulfed its northern neighbours, Latvia and Estonia.

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