Learning 6: When a company gets big enough people stop asking
With Wirecard, Markus Braun and Jan Marsalek weaved an opaque network of subcontractors and third-party providers behind which they could hide: “Of course, you don’t just start out and invent €1.9 billion out of nowhere. Wirecard’s fraud began with small sums of money,” said McCrum.
Over time, the fictitious profits grew larger. By the end of 2019, Wirecard was a DAX company with a market value of more than €20 billion – considerably more than Deutsche Bank. So who would really want to ask any more questions? Not the auditors from Ernst & Young. Nor the banks that granted Wirecard loans. The German authorities? Not a whisper. Besides, hardly any other German company had made investors as rich as Wirecard had in past years. Perhaps the main reason why no questions were asked.
For more details about the Wirecard story, check out the Netflix documentary about the scandal here.