The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office has conducted a search of Wirecard’s head office in Aschheim near Munich on suspicion of market manipulation.
The raid that took place at Wirecard’s head office on June 5, 2020 appears to have been in response to a criminal charge lodged by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin) – Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority – concerning ad-hoc announcements made by the company on March 12 and April 22 of this year. When considered in connection with a special report produced by the auditors, these announcements may have given misleading signals with respect to the market price of Wirecard shares. They could give the impression that accusations relating to various accounting irregularities might be refuted by the special report.
Wirecard has come under fire for alleged accounting irregularities for some time now. The company has consistently rejected the accusations made against it. In the interest of clarity, the payment services provider decided to task an auditing firm in the fall of 2019 with conducting an independent special investigation. Following multiple delays, the report was submitted on April 28, 2020. It lays out an entire list of criticisms. Wirecard’s share price subsequently experienced a significant drop in value.
According to media reports, the auditors accused Wirecard of having delayed the investigations and belatedly made documents available in some cases and not at all in others.
The ad-hoc announcements made prior to the publication of the special report paint a different picture. The shareholders are now faced with the question of whether they ought to feel reassured or deceived by these announcements. Members of the executive board are therefore being investigated on suspicion of market manipulation.
Wirecard stresses that it is the board members and not the company which are the subject of these investigations, noting that the annual and consolidated financial statements for 2019 are expected to be released on June 18, 2020 as planned.
This is reassuring news for shareholders of Wirecard AG. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that if the company has failed to comply with its reporting obligations vis-à-vis its shareholders, providing inaccurate or incomplete information, this may give rise to claims for damages.
Investors are already piling pressure on the company, accusing it of potentially supplying erroneous information. In addition, a formal request has been submitted to open model case proceedings pursuant to the German Capital Markets Model Case Act (Kapitalanleger-Musterverfahrensgesetz, KapMuG).
Lawyers with experience in the fields of capital markets and stock corporation law can assist shareholders of Wirecard AG in enforcing their rights.
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