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Former head of collapsed firm Wirecard to appear before German inquiry

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The former head of collapsed payments services provider Wirecard must appear in person before a German parliamentary inquiry on Thursday after a court rejected his lawyers’ motion for him to be allowed to testify by video link.

The Federal Court of Justice rejected the request from Markus Braun, who has been detained since July pending a trial on charges of fraud and embezzlement, according a letter, seen by Reuters, sent by the court to the parliamentary committee that will hear him.

The ruling means that former Chief Executive Braun, held on suspicion of defrauding investors through false accounting, could be brought to Berlin to appear before the committee in handcuffs.

Braun, and several other accused, deny any wrongdoing.

His laywers had argued that the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic made it unnecessarily risky for him to testify in person, especially when the necessity of providing prisoner transport was considered.

Munich-based Wirecard collapsed in June after auditors EY refused to sign off on its 2019 accounts because it could not verify 1.9 billion euros (1.70 billion pounds) supposedly held abroad in escrow by third-party partners.

Wirecard’s global operations also included revenues from CenturionBet, whose licence was suspended in 2017 by the Malta Gaming Authority, comprised. These were only a tiny fraction of Wirecard’s global operations.  Maltatoday had reported that the discovery raises questions about the business model of the German company “once lauded as a pioneer of European fintech”, the FT reported. 

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