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FirstFT: Wirecard’s former top accountant admits forging audit documents

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Wirecard’s ex-head of accounting has admitted to forging documents requested by KPMG during a special audit, ahead of a trial set for later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Stephan von Erffa is one of three defendants in a case brought by Munich prosecutors over the spectacular downfall last year of one of Germany’s highest-flying technology companies.

The 47-year-old is the first senior Wirecard executive to admit wrongdoing since Oliver Bellenhaus, head of a Dubai subsidiary, turned himself in to authorities in July 2020 and turned chief witness for the prosecution.

Wirecard crashed into insolvency in June 2020 after admitting that half of its stated revenues and €1.9bn of corporate cash purportedly held in escrow accounts in Asia did not exist.

Von Erffa is one of three Wirecard executives charged with fraud, breach of trust and market manipulation, alongside Bellenhaus and former chief executive Markus Braun, who denies wrongdoing.

Von Erffa denied any involvement in the fraud and blamed Wirecard’s fugitive second-in-command Jan Marsalek during a parliamentary inquiry last year. However, a police investigation found evidence that von Erffa forged documents that were shared with auditors at KPMG and EY.

Do you have any feedback on the newsletter? Tell us at Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Jennifer

1. ECB targets banks’ windfall The European Central Bank is examining ways to stop lenders earning billions of euros in extra profit from the €2.2tn programme of ultra-cheap subsidised loans it offered during the pandemic once it starts raising interest rates this month.

  • Opinion: A pause on stress tests by European regulators feels oddly out of sync with a darkening economic picture, writes Patrick Jenkins.

2. Russia claims full control of Luhansk Moscow’s forces claimed to have seized the entirety of eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region after capturing Lysychansk, Kyiv’s last stronghold. If confirmed, the loss for Ukraine after weeks of brutal fighting would hand President Vladimir Putin a significant military achievement in pursuit of control of the Donbas.

More on the war in Ukraine

3. Credit Suisse juggles backlog of wealthy Asia accounts The Swiss lender is struggling to reduce a build-up of hundreds of clients waiting as long as eight months to open accounts in Asia, causing some to switch to rivals and hitting staff morale at the heart of the bank’s efforts to revive its fortunes.

4. EBC warning over crypto regulation Europe’s central bank will warn eurozone countries this week of the dangers of national regulators getting ahead of pending EU cryptocurrency rules, highlighting the difficulties of “harmonisation” of oversight of the “wild west” sector.

5. Several dead in Copenhagen mall shooting A gunman killed three people and injured several others during a shooting at a shopping mall in the Danish capital yesterday, according to police. Søren Thomassen, a chief inspector, said it was too soon to determine a possible motive.

People outside Fields shopping center in Copenhagen, Denmark
Police have arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with the shooting © Ritzau Scanpix/Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Reuters

The day ahead

Sir Keir Starmer’s five-point economic plan The Labour leader will in a speech signal that his party is willing to fight Boris Johnson over his Brexit legacy at the next election and set out a plan to tackle the economic pain caused by Britain’s EU exit.

Turkey decides Russian vessel’s fate Kyiv’s envoy to Ankara said local authorities would decide how to deal with a Russia-flagged cargo ship accused of carrying stolen grain from Ukraine, which has been blocked from entering the Turkish port of Karasu.

UK barristers’ strike Legal professionals in England and Wales resume a walkout over government legal aid rates, escalating an action that began last week.

Economic data Germany releases May trade balance figures while the EU publishes industrial producer price data. The Ukraine Recovery Conference begins in Lugano, Switzerland.

American Independence Day US markets are closed as the country observes a federal holiday to celebrate the anniversary of its separation from Great Britain.

What else we’re reading

Michael Lewis on underdogs and oddballs Speaking with Henry Mance, one of the greatest chroniclers of America’s financial crisis took aim at the former president — and at the US response to Covid-19: “The thing that really works for Trump is: the system’s rigged.”

Immune imprinting drives debate about Covid-19 jabs Two years into the pandemic, people have acquired different types of immunity depending on which strains they have encountered. This spectrum requires a broad response and presents a challenge for the next generation of vaccines.

chart illustrating how individuals develop different immune responses to Covid-19

Nato’s revival The return of cold war rhetoric at Nato’s summit last week promised the rejuvenation of an alliance of values standing opposed to Moscow — and Beijing. But it masked growing internal differences about how to endure the rising economic costs of the war in Ukraine, divisions that will test western resolve as leaders face pressure back home.

Emerging markets are in better shape than you think When dire news breaks on the global economy, from rising interest rates to commodity prices, pundits say “emerging markets” are in the worst spot. But dour commentary misses reforms in the largest developing economies since the taper tantrum last sent investors fleeing, writes Ruchir Sharma.

Pop-up leaders and flexible staff are ready for the next crisis The entire workforce has just taken a global stress-test in double-digit inflation and economic recession. Now, senior managers are more prepared to tackle upheaval than executives appreciate, writes Andrew Hill.


When the author George Orwell moved to the Isle of Jura in the 1940s, he found it untamed and “un-getatable”. It still is, writes Sophy Roberts.

The Isle of Jura
Jura is 30 miles long, 7 miles wide, with a population of 200 then and now © Michael Turek

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