Wirecard auditors face legal action after collapse of payments firm

Wirecard auditors face legal action after collapse of payments firm

The lettering of the payment service provider Wirecard can be seen on a laptop screen

Silas Stein | picture alliance | Getty Images

Wirecard’s auditors are being faced with legal action after the collapse of the scandal-hit German payments firm.

The German shareholders’ association SdK said Friday that it had filed a criminal complaint against auditors at EY. SdK’s complaint targets two current employees and one former employees of Wirecard’s long-time auditor.

The accountancy last week refused to sign off Wirecard’s 2019 books after discovering 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) of cash had gone missing from its balance sheet.

Munich-based Wirecard filed for insolvency on Thursday, marking a tumultuous fall for the group. Wirecard, which is still listed on the DAX 30, has seen its share price capitulate since the accounting black hole was revealed last week.

EY told CNBC late Thursday that there were “clear indications that this was an elaborate and sophisticated fraud, involving multiple parties around the world in different institutions, with a deliberate aim of deception.”

In attempt to defend its reputation, the group added that “even the most robust and extended audit procedures” couldn’t uncover what it called a “collusive fraud.”

EY is facing mounting legal pressure due to its role in auditing Wirecard’s accounts. Earlier this month, Wolfgang Schirp filed a class action lawsuit against the consultancy on behalf of Wirecard investors, alleging it failed to flag improperly booked payments on Wirecard’s 2018 accounts.

According to German news magazine Der Spiegel, SoftBank is also planning to sue EY over the debacle. SoftBank wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

The Japanese tech investor last year put 900 million euros into Wirecard through a complex convertible note deal, but later sought to hedge against its initial bet by repackaging the bonds into exchangeables that were sold to other institutional investors.

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