Wirecard shows risks of fashionable fintech
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Opinion

Wirecard shows risks of fashionable fintech

Nationalist desperation to get ahead in fintech surely explains some of the spectacular regulatory failure in the Wirecard accounting scandal.

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Short-sellers are reaping more than financial rewards from a multi-billion euro accounting fraud at German payments processing firm Wirecard. 

Among other measures to defend the now-stricken firm, German financial regulator BaFin temporarily banned shorting its shares in 2019. Now the short-sellers have taken the moral high ground – despite Europe’s recent Covid-19 shorting bans – as Wirecard’s downfall has left former chief executive Markus Braun subject to a criminal investigation.

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Markus Braun, Wirecard 

Fraser Perring is one of the short-sellers who did most to publicize doubts about Wirecard’s accounting, initially sparking a sharp selloff in Wirecard shares in 2016, following disclosures by Zatarra Research and Investigations. 

Perring now feels not just vindicated, but angry about BaFin’s market-manipulation complaints that were made against him in connection with Wirecard. He says that this was settled out of court this spring, for a “relatively small” sum.

A former social worker in the English midlands, Perring is perhaps the ideal character for an activist short-seller. He naturally distrusts the capitalist establishment and relishes taking down its members. 

His passion and air of amateurism sometimes makes him sound like a conspiracy theorist – he talks of freemasonry and the like – and attracts, at least, accusations of recklessness.


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