According to former employees, Wirecard employees carried millions of euros of cash from the group’s Munich headquarters in plastic bags for years, even more, brave than previously known payment companies.
April 23, 2021 | AtoZ Markets – For several years, employees of the now-bankrupt fintech company Wirecard have been carrying plastic cash bags worth several million euros from their Munich headquarters, Financial Times reported with reference to ex-employees of the firm familiar with the situation.
According to them, this practice began in 2012. The total amount, the current location of the money, and the purpose of their removal from the building are unclear.
The payment processor Wirecard owned its own bank but had no branches. Subsequently, the company bought a safe to store cash and placed it at the headquarters.
Wirecard employee hauled out more than €100m
According to internal correspondence reviewed by the FT, €500,000 in cash was delivered to the office in May 2017. Since the safe was already full, they decided to hide some of the money somewhere in the room.
A Wirecard employee who worked for almost two years until 2018 said that amounts from €200,000 to €700,000 were withdrawn frequently, sometimes several times a week.
Based on these data, the publication does not rule out the theft of more than €100 million. At the same time, the withdrawal of cash in the amount of about €6 million was recorded in the bank records seized by the police.
Some of them were recorded as belonging to Wirecard Bank customers, including suspicious business partners such as the Philippine payment company PayEasy. It accounted for a fifth of Wirecard's operating profit.
Former employees also said that most of the cash was withdrawn by the assistant to senior manager Oliver Bellenhouse, who ran a subsidiary in Dubai. According to them, she sometimes handed packages of cash to unknown persons at the Munich airport. In one case, a six-figure sum was allegedly intended for Manila-based Christopher Bauer, the owner of PayEasy. Bauer passed away in the summer of 2020, shortly after the Wirecard collapse.
Bellenhaus was arrested in July 2020 on suspicion of aggravated fraud. He told prosecutors about almost € 15 million that had been transferred from Wirecard Bank accounts to offshore accounts of companies registered on the island of Antigua.
The origin of these €15 million, as well as the cash withdrawn, is unclear. A source familiar with the investigation suggested that the funds could have been raised by Wirecard's Asian branch.
The former Wirecard CEO Marcus Brown, suspected of falsifying the data, through a lawyer said that he did not know about the withdrawal of large funds from the company's clients and about dubious bank accounts. Brown was arrested at the end of June 2020 but released a couple of days later on bail in the amount of € 5 million.
Recall that in June 2020, a hole in the balance sheet of almost €2 billion was found on Wirecard accounts. Later, the company began bankruptcy proceedings.
Former Wirecard executive Jan Marsalek, known to be the mastermind behind the accounting fraud, went into hiding a few days before the Munich prosecutor's office issued a warrant for his arrest.
A former high-ranking official of the Austrian secret service and an ex-deputy from the right-wing forces were arrested on suspicion of organizing the escape.
Marsalek's whereabouts are still unknown. After some information, he fled to the territory of Russia.