Wirecard, the now-defunct payment processing company that previously served the online gaming industry, may have had help hiding its tracks. If the assertions are true, Germany and Russia were willing accomplices.
It reads like the next chapter in the Jason Bourne series. A multibillion-dollar financial company hides billions of dollars under the protection of the highest leaders of government. It’s not a fictional tale, however, as this is allegedly what is happening with Wirecard.
Wirecard’s former CEO, Markus Braun, is going to stand trial for his involvement in the global financial giant’s collapse. However, Austrian Jan Marsalek, its former chief operating officer and a board member implicated in the theft, remains at large. That is possible, according to German media outlet Bild, because Germany and Russia are offering him protection.
Marsalek Remains MIA
Marsalek disappeared in 2020. However, investigators learned that he was living in Russia, according to Bild and allegedly based on insider documents it obtained. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB, for its Russian acronym) contacted Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, offering a chance to interrogate him. Germany refused.
…[This] information was already brought to the attention of the German government before May 2021—but the government was interested in covering up instead of clearing up, much to the annoyance of those who had passed on this information,” states German journalist Boris Reitschuster.
The cover-up allegedly goes all the way to the top. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, current Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin conspired to intervene because they helped put Wirecard on the map.
Germany was also embarrassed over the situation. Instead of trying to correct the mistake, government leaders decided to brush it under the rug and pretend nothing happened. At the time, Scholz was on his way to the top, ready to take over for Merkel. Because it was an election year, Merkel stood the chance of ending her career with a scandal.
Wirecard was allegedly looking to purchase a bank in Russia. By then, as a former Marsalek acquaintance said, everyone knew that Wirecard was the “main settlement bank for illegal, online casinos and bookmakers in Russia.”
Russia reportedly needed a man like Marsalek. They needed someone capable of hiding billions of dollars in cash while helping cook the books to cover up the activity. When it fell, Wirecard was worth $27 billion, but most of that was only on paper.
Marsalek, at one point, allegedly lived about 15 miles from the Kremlin and received protection from the FSB. He also made regular trips back and forth between Germany and Russia – 16 times in 2016.
More Than Financial Fraud
There’s more to the alleged cover-up than trying to avoid a political embarrassment. Media outlet The Trumpet asserts that Germany supports – and has supported – Russia during all of its illegal encroachments. This includes its current attack on Ukraine.
Germany reportedly supported Russia when it invaded neighboring Georgia in 2008. It then looked the other way when Russia took the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
As a result, Germany isn’t willing to let something like multibillion-dollar financial fraud stand in the way of its political agenda. Proving the allegations, however, is not going to be an easy task.
Germany launched an investigation into Wirecard, but that may have been a smokescreen. Even though Germany and Russia allegedly know where Marsalek is hiding, the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia makes any chance at extradition impossible.
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