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The Wirecard scandal: what went wrong?

The collapse of the German payment processor carries several important lessons for investors
The Wirecard scandal: what went wrong?

In less than a fortnight, Wirecard (Ger:WDI) has gone from one of Europe’s most hyped financial technology firms to insolvency, all-but extinguishing the value of a company that was worth almost €20bn (£18bn) as recently as April.

After years of rising suspicion, dogged investigative reporting and growing short interest, it was the company’s own admission on 18 June that auditors could not locate €1.9bn of cash which sounded the death knell. Already, comparisons have been drawn with Enron, the energy group and one-time stock market darling whose systematic fraud and corruption rocked the US business establishment when it was uncovered in 2001.

For investors in 2020, the Wirecard scandal opens a vault of questions, chief among them concerning the integrity of market regulation and corporate audit process.

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