How did Wirecard go from a “rockstar” to a company that fabricates customers, invents profits, and expropriates investors’ capital? Watch a Stigler Center webinar discussing the Wirecard saga and the role of regulation, auditing, and analysts.
This year, a series of accounting scandals ultimately ended with the insolvency of Wirecard—a prominent German company included in the DAX index—and the arrest of its CEO. The matter raised questions of regulatory failure and improper auditing practices, among others, leading some observers to compare it to America’s Enron scandal.
“Wirecard was a payment processor for e-commerce sites, a sort-of middleman that helped these mostly smallish websites collect cash from their customers, who in turn used major credit cards such as Visa,” writes Karthik Ramanna, professor of business and public policy at Oxford university’s Blavatnik School of Government. “If that sounds like a fairly vanilla financial-intermediary business model, it is. Yet, for some reason, Wirecard was treated as a rockstar of sorts both by several key players in global finance, including Softbank, and by Germany’s political-regulatory establishment, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
So how did Wirecard go from a “rockstar” to a company that fabricates customers, invents profits, and expropriates investors’ capital? To find out, the Stigler Center recently hosted a conversation with Wirecard short-seller Leo Perry and Ramanna on the Wirecard saga and the role of regulation, auditing, and analysts. It was moderated by investigative journalist Bethany McLean.
Watch it here: