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EY and Wirecard: announced silence in front of committee causes outrage

2020-11-25T11:22:27.695Z

What role did EY play in the Wirecard scandal? The auditors want to remain silent for the time being in front of the committee of inquiry. This causes boycott threats in the Bundestag - and criticism from its own industry.



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EY logo in Zurich

Photo: ARND WIEGMANN / REUTERS

The announcement by the auditing company EY (formerly Ernst & Young) that it will not let its employees testify to the Wirecard committee for the time being has met with criticism from specialist circles.

"The Wirecard case also has a negative impact on the public reputation of the auditors," says Klaus-Peter Naumann, spokesman for the board of the Institute of Auditors (IDW), the SPIEGEL Participate in clearing up the scandal within the scope of the legal possibilities. "

EY auditors had approved Wirecard's balance sheets for more than ten years before the company slipped into bankruptcy as a result of a billion-dollar accounting scandal.

Last week, insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé released four company representatives from confidentiality.

For Thursday they were invited to the Wirecard investigation committee of the Bundestag.

From EY's point of view, however, the delivery is not enough; there is still a high personal legal risk for employees.

The company emphasizes that it is basically ready to make a statement, but wants to wait for a legal clarification first.

For this, EY apparently also wants to accept a fine, which could then be challenged before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH).

The two remaining board members of Wirecard, Susanne Steidl and Alexander von Knoop, also approved a statement by the auditors to the investigative committee, as a letter available to SPIEGEL shows.

EY welcomed this. For legal security, however, the release had to be carried out by the members of the supervisory board and management board “who commissioned the auditor or were members of the management board in the year in question”.

"What consequences do you actually fear?"

Fritz Güntzler, CDU representative in the committee of inquiry and himself an auditor, doubts the EY argumentation.

"I regret that the colleagues from EY did not take the opportunity to give comprehensive questions and answers," he told SPIEGEL. The reason for the refusal to testify seemed "advanced. What consequences do you actually fear?"

"Why brick the wall if you think you haven't done anything wrong?" Asks the SPD MP Cansel Kiziltepe.

It refers to trustee accounts in Asia that Wirecard set up on the recommendation of EY, according to SPIEGEL information.

"Instead of checking, EY advised," says Kiziltepe.

“EY has to comment on that.

We cannot award public contracts to a company that refuses to inform the public. "

Boycott threats are now also coming from the coalition partner.

It is "clear that an auditing and consulting company that supports such a blockade course can no longer be a business partner for the federal government," said CSU finance politician and committee member Hans Michelbach of the "Augsburger Allgemeine".

The aim is to "block an investigation of the Wirecard scandal under flimsy pretexts."

IW representative Naumann credits EY with the fact that there are indeed different legal opinions as to whether the release from the obligation of confidentiality by the insolvency administrator is sufficient.

"The older judgments denied that the insolvency administrator could lift the secrecy," said Naumann.

But the more recent judgments released the examiners from their secrecy.

"I consider this view to be appropriate."

Behind the anger over EY's blocking course is also a struggle to determine which of those involved in the Wirecard scandal will feel the consequences in the end.

While the CDU-led Ministry of Economics is blocking reforms of the auditor supervision, the SPD-led Ministry of Finance has so far prevented a tough crackdown on the financial supervision BaFin.

Their boss Felix Hufeld and other employees were at least available to answer questions in the Bundestag.

Of course, "employees of public authorities would not play such games," says SPD chairman Jens Zimmermann with a view to EY.

Wieland is supposed to investigate evidence of the secret service

On another issue, the committee of inquiry has taken a step further.

According to SPIEGEL information, the stewards agreed on a special investigator who should help clear up the company's secret service involvement.

The choice fell on the former Green MP Wolfgang Wieland, who was also Senator for Justice in Berlin.

Wieland is to investigate whether the Wirecard board member Jan Marsalek got help from secret services in his escape.

He should also clarify whether Marsalek was possibly an employee of the Austrian secret service.

In addition, there are always suspicions that he could have received support from Russian services, for example with business activities in Libya.

The former secret service coordinator of the federal government, Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, also lobbied for Wirecard in his former workplace.

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Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2020-11-25

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