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Ex CEO of Payment Provider Wirecard Arrested Over Missing $2 Billion

(BERLIN) — The former CEO of German payment service provider Wirecard has been arrested in an accounting scandal that centers on a missing sum of 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion), prosecutors in Munich said Tuesday.

Markus Braun resigned on Friday after the company disclosed that auditors couldn’t find accounts containing the money. On Monday, Wirecard said it has concluded that the money probably doesn’t exist.

Prosecutors said a court issued an arrest warrant shortly afterward and Braun turned himself in on Monday evening.

He is accused of inflating the company’s balance sheet and revenue, “possibly in collaboration with further perpetrators,” in order to “portray the company as financially stronger and more attractive for investors and clients,” they said in a statement.

Braun was arrested on suspicion of incorrect statements of data and market manipulation.

Wirecard AG was once regarded as a star of the growing financial technology sector, but its shares have fallen sharply after the company became the subject of multiple Financial Times reports about accounting irregularities in its Asian operations. Wirecard disputed the reports, which started in February 2019, and said it was the victim of speculators.

On Monday the company announced the firing of its chief operating officer, Jan Marsalek, who had been suspended from the management board last week. German news agency dpa reported that Marsalek had been in charge of overseeing daily operations including in Southeast Asia, where the possible fraud occurred.

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