oker is often extremely exciting, namely when the stakes are high and only a few players remain at the table to secure the jackpot. A special tactic in this game is the so-called pokerface, meaning the deceptive presentation of a high-quality card collection in a hidden hand. This is intended to deceive opponents psychologically to make them abandon the game prematurely, all while having their stakes to remain on the poker table.
One could almost believe that such a poker-faced game took place in 2019 with various members of Germany's Chancellery, the German Ministry of Finance, former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, and representatives of the online payment service provider Wirecard, which was listed on Germany's DAX stock exchange at that time.
Promising IT Company
Wirecard was founded in 1999 in the city center of Munich, Germany as a provider of online payment software. When in 2000 Jan Marsalek is made Director of IT, one of his projects failed with loss of over 1 Million Euros. KPMG is called in to cleanup the mess, Markus Braun is part of KPMG's team and asked to join Wirecard. In 2001, Wirecard moved to Munich's suburb Aschheim.
Intelligent Theft AG
In 2001, an alleged theft of Braun's and Marsalek's laptop made Wirecard easy prey for porn provider EBS Holdings, which bought Wirecard after it filed for bankcruptcy im 2001. In January 2005, Wirecard became a stock corporation through a reverse IPO with Berlin-based InfoGenie Europe AG. Braun joins the board of directors, Marsalek in 2010. Wirecard Asia Pacific was formed in 2007.
The memyselfandi007 Blogger
Already in 2008, an anonymous blogger posted a text about Wirecard's financial irregularities on an online forum, was read multiple million times. Germany's Protection Association of Investors (SdK) takes action and reports about it, causing Wirecard to file a criminal complaint after major investors had tuned in and brought the share price down. Munich's public prosecutors indicted SdK people, not Wirecard.
The Financial Times Reports
Additional reports like those by The Financial Times made Wirecard file various criminal complaints for market manipulation. On February 8, 2019, Singapure police raided Wirecard Asia Pacific offices. Munich's public prosecutors investigated FT reporters until September 2020. When FT stood by their allegations, Wirecard hired KPMG to prepare a 2019 financial review. KPMG couldn't make definite statements about Wirecards businesses.
On June 18, 2020, Wirecard finally admitted there was 'insufficient evidence of available bank balances in trust accounts in the Philippines', amounting to a whopping 1.9 billion Euros simply missing. Braun was put into custody, Marsalek since disappeared. In October 2020, the German Bundestag decided to investigate the matter, showing that high-ranking German politicians were informed early about red flags at Wirecard.
The China Deal
Germany's Bavaria-born former defense minister Guttenberg lobbied on behalf of Wirecard from 2018 on for their Chinese expansion plans. German Finance Ministry was informed early 2019 about Wirecard's fraud investigation at BaFin. Chancellor Merkel promoted Wirecard during China trip in September 2019. Wirecard made an offer to buy China's AllScore shortly after, many criminal violations against AllScore were apparently filed years before.
The Wirecard company
was founded in 1999 in the inner city district of Lehel in the Bavarian capital Munich, originally and from now on providing software that would act as an intermediary between credit card companies, online retailers and Internet customers. In 2000, the still young Wirecard company received a double-digit million amount as start-up capital
under then founder Detlev Hoppenrath who also promoted Jan Marsalek
, to the position of Director of Information Technology, an Austrian national who was initially employed by Wirecard at the tender age of 20. When an internal IT project led by Marsalek failed, resulting in a loss of around 1 million euros, the management consultancy KPMG was asked to cleanup the mess. Another Austrian national in KPMG's team drew the attention of Wirecard's management and was asked to swing over to Wirecard: Markus Braun.
In May 2001, the company moved to the very telling Munich outskirt called Aschheim. Marsalek is not fired, but kept on track and from then on formed high-flying projects together with his Austrian colleague Braun. For example in November 2001, when Braun's and Marsalek's laptops were stolen during an alleged theft
in which, according to Wirecard, more or less the entire corporate technology was taken away. Wirecard was now an easy prey for the porn website operator EPM AG, which rebranded itself as EBS Holdings and took over the Aschheim-based company shortly after it had filed for bankruptcy. At the same time of the EBS AG takeover, Wirecard founder Hoppenrath filed a criminal complaint against the new board at the Munich public prosecutor's office
in January of 2002. He suspected that corporate insiders were responsible for the technology theft. Understandable, considering that Braun was informed by porn company founder Schlichtegroll in October 2001 that there was strong interest in a Wirecard takeover. Wirecard's founder Hoppenrath officially leaves the newly formed company by the end of 2001, the company is now slowly igniting its growth rockets soon after the Munich public prosecutor's office either closed the investigation or, as is often the case there, selectively rejected to investigate.
The next Munich stunt show with energetic help from Austria was not long in the coming. In January 2005, Wirecard was transformed into a publicly traded stock corporation through a so-called reverse IPO
. Similar to viruses, a host was used, in this case the ingenious call center operator InfoGenie Europe AG based in Berlin. A month earlier, InfoGenie AG decided to be taken over by Wirecard entirely and in that way prevent the threat of being banned from the TecDax due to lack of success. Wirecard issued a capital increase by contribution in kind (!) and voila, InfoGenie Europe AG was renamed into Wire Card AG in 2005 which was now even listed on Germany's TecDax market. Porn operator Schlichtegroll joined the supervisory board, Markus Braun has been a member of the board from the beginning, from 2010 on his Austrian colleague Jens Marsalek joined the board, too. Genius !
Only two years after the host was absorbed and Wirecard had converted into a stock corporation, Wirecard Asia Pacific was founded in Singapore in 2007, the origin of the infamous end of the company about a decade later. As early as May 2008, an anonymous user named 'memyselfandi007' posted
on the Wallstreet Online Internet forum about financial inconsistencies in connection with Wirecard's takeover of Trustpay AG
, a company that was also based in a Munich suburb:
Only half of the purchase price [48 million euros] was paid (financed by a capital increase !!!), the rest will follow in 2008. Whoever is the seller of this portfolio seems to be making a good deal of money, he gets at least three times as much of the book value before back payments. You can google the acquired Trustpay AG any way you want, apart from the Wirecard News you won't find any information. Nothing at all. And for that 40 million ? It looks like a systematic plundering of the capital increases, especially if you consider that the acquired company, like Wirecard, is based in Grassbrunn.
(Anonymous blogger memyselfandi007 on Wallstreet-Online
dated May 1, 2008)
On the basis of these statements by 'memyselfandi007', which were read many million times on the web, the German Protection Association of Investors (SdK) takes action
and accuses Wirecard of falsifying its accounts, leading Wirecard to hire auditing company Ernst & Young to prepare a special financial audit for 2007. In the meantime, an important group of investors made the balance sheet issues public
, which caused Wirecard's share prices to plummet and the company to file another criminal complaint
with Munich's public prosecutor's office. There however, one was not particularly interested in the many obvious Wirecard balance sheet falsifications but instead took two SdK employees into custody and sentenced them later
for other offenses. Munich's police did also not hesitate much to investigate the internet forum author for a while.
Three years later, Munich's public prosecutor's office had to take action again in 2010, this time because allegedly false reports from a financial whistleblower organisation
in the USA named Goldman, Morgenstern & Partners (GoMoPa
) would "damage Wirecard in an unjustified manner". Wirecard itself was apparently not the complainant here, but already back then Germany's Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), based in Frankfurt and Bonn. The initial trigger in 2010 was the indictment and later conviction of German national Michael Schuett by law enforcement authorities in Florida, USA. Schuett was convicted for engaging in illegal money transactions of around 70 million USD
, the majority generated through online poker games and mailed as regular checks by Schuett to thousands of North American poker game winners.
GoMoPa initially stated that Schuett mentioned Wirecard as one of his money providers on the European side. Under somewhat dubious circumstances, Schuett's statements were changed a little later, only to be withdrawn entirely. Meanwhile, Wirecard's share price fell by a whopping 30% which was apparently much more important to Munich's public prosecutors and also to BaFin than Wirecard's connections in England, where Wirecard executives were indirectly in contact with Michael Schuett
through a company called Brinken Merchant Inc.. For two years, Munich's public prosecutors did not investigate Wirecard UK
, but instead GoMoPa, this until 2012, which now raises the urgent question of why Munich's public prosecutors did not investigate any further issues regarding Wirecard's obvious connections to Schuett in Florida at that time:
Ordinary residents of Consett [in England] were paid to serve as directors of hundreds of companies by Brinken Merchant Incorporations (BMI), a Simon Dowson-run, locally-based company. BMI shareholders included Patrick Mosbach, a former Wirecard sales executive, and Brigette Axtner, executive vice president for digital sales at Wirecard .... In 2009, the US Secret Service found that Bluetool Limited, a company that had a local teacher acting as a director, breached money-laundering rules. Michael Schuett, a German citizen, was jailed in the US after admitting running an unlicensed money transmitting business. He was found to have channelled $70 million from Europe to Florida, including via Bluetool and Wirecard.
(Report on Wirecard UK from 2020
The next, very Bavarian investigation by Munich's public prosecutors regarding Wirecard happened in 2018, when another report about Wirecard's practices
with reference to a takeover of India-based 'GI Retail' and many other corrupt revelations brought the stock prices into a free fall. In December 2018, Munich's public prosecutors filed a complaint for market manipulation after previous "investigations". Not against Wirecard, but instead against Matthew Earl, the publisher of the 'Zatarra' report
, and with him also against 37 other "suspects" who were "targeted" by Munich's prosecutors for various Wirecard stock dealings. The British stock briefing publisher Fraser Perring agreed to pay a five-figure sum more or less voluntarily
to prevent higher convictions. Matthew Earl was personally persecuted
In 2018, Wirecard replaced scandalous 'Commerzbank'
on Germany's major stock market DAX. Only when Wirecard's balance sheet falsifications were seriously investigated far away from Munich and Germany came the corrupt connections that later even extended to Germany's Chancellery in Berlin into light. In a series of reports
on Wirecard, Financial Times journalist Dan McCrum piled up
the fraudulous manipulations, so much that he was not only persecuted personally, but that the police in Singapore broke into Wirecard's branch offices there on February 8, 2019 to confiscate documents and computers. As usual, Wirecard's management team in Aschheim responded with a criminal complaint against the Financial Times
. Munich's public prosecutor's office actually did open an investigation into Financial Times journalists for market manipulation, this also after being pressured by Germany's BaFin, an investigation that was officially not terminated by Munich's scandalous public prosecutors before September 2020
When the Financial Times stood by its allegations even in October 2019
, Wirecard arranged for a financial review by financial auditors KPMG, which some time later announced to an astonished financial world that it was embarrassingly impossible to make any clear statements about Wirecard's third-party businesses. Wirecard postponed the publication of its 2019 annual report and even felt confirmed by the partly scandalous KPMG results
. It was not until June 18, 2020 that Wirecard finally admitted there was "insufficient evidence of available bank balances in trust accounts in the Philippines", amounting to a whopping 1.9 billion (not million!) Euros simply missing.
Braun was put into custody, Marsalek has since disappeared. A September 2020 report by Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung
that reads almost like a conspiracy theory tells that Marsalek was reported to be in bed with Austria's Constitution Protection Agency (BVT), and that he fled to Minsk, Belarus on the evening of June 19, 2020 by the use of a private plane. That's where he was apparently also seen for the last time.
Munich's Prinzregentenstraße 61.
Things become a bit clearer when considering that Marsalek had strong ties to the Austrian BVT
and was actually very close to Russia, in a literal sense.
Both Braun and Marsalek were so-called "Senators" of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society (ÖRFG)
in Vienna, Wirecard transferred around 10,000 Euros to that group annually. Around 2017, an unspecified "German group of experts" asked the Austrian Ministry of Defense whether they wanted to setup a mercenary group in southern Libya
in order to stop the mass migration flows to the north. The responsible government official for the project at the Austrian Ministry of Defense was a board member of the friendly Russian-Austrians in Vienna (ÖRFG), they wanted Marsalek as a manager for the project which was never realised. Also, Marsalek resided in a luxurious house literally on the other street side of the Russian consulate in the Bavarian capital Munich. The property was not rented by Marsalek himself, but by an IT investment company named 'IMS Capital'
, whose director Munich-born Marsalek friend and online tourism portal investor Aleksandar Vucak is/was.
Vucak was indirectly mentioned in a May 2018 report by auditing firm Rajah & Tann
already, commissioned by Wirecard because of incriminating statements from a Singapore whistleblower. The 'Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A' (EMIF IA) based in Mauritius bought Indian-Asian former lottery company 'Hermes Tickets' in September 2015 for 37 million USD, founders Santiago Martin and Usman Fayaz were not only convicted for illegal business activities
, but also had various business connections to Liberia
. A few weeks later, at the end of October 2015, Wirecard officially announced
it would acquire parent company 'GI Retail', mentioned in detail in the Zatarra report, for 230 million Euros in cash plus 110 million in earnouts. Another few months later, Wirecard formally acquired Hermes Tickets from EMIF for 340 million USD, GI Retail's most valuable business part. Financial Times journalist Dan McCrum and others accused Wirecard
of so-called "round-tripping", Hermes minority shareholders filed criminal charges
because they were paid out based on the 37 million deal with EMIF. Around the same time in November 2015, EMIF announced it had acquired a travel company from India called 'Orbit' for 180 million USD
, in mid 2017 also 'Goomo.com'
for 50 million USD. Director at Goomo
(Hindi for travel) at that time in 2017 was Aleksandar Vucak.
Vucak is now in charge of a company named 'Bionovate Technologies'
with business address in Cham, Switzerland, where he was made Director, CEO, CFO, Secretary and Treasurer in 2020. He follows a number of previously replaced lawyers in the same position at Bionovate, including corporate lawyer and former San Diego, California prosecutor Marc Applbaum. Bionovate claims to have
an office in China, shareholders located in the Virgin Islands, a former company president from Mexico
, a former CEO from China
as well as a strange previous business address in Israel
. The until now financially low profile company came up with a COVID testing kit for Smartphones
in 2021, which begs the question why so many elite intelligence circles were apparently involved in the Wirecard matter:
Marsalek also hired management consultancy company 'Gradus Proximus Advisory GmbH'
from Vienna, Austria to prepare weekly reports on social media observations related to Wirecard. Thomas Zach, founder of Gradus Proximus and close aide of Austria's former Interior Minister Strasser, apparently also arranged a contact with Israeli IT professional Avi Rosen. The encryption technology expert has close contacts with Israeli secret services, Rosen and Marsalek met five days after Munich's Security Conference on February 24, 2017 in the Bavarian capital. According to emails, the two intended to setup a joint business venture.
Marsalek and Rosen met for the first time in Munich at the end of 2016, and again in February 2017. E-mails proof that both times Thomas Zach was involved. For the second meeting on February 24, 2017, Zach had also prepared an agenda and sent it to both Rosen and Marsalek. “Shall we start at 9am and see how far we come until lunchtime ?“, he asked both in an email on February 13, 2017. As far it can be reconstructed, Marsalek and Rosen were considering to establish a business joint venture.
Article on profil.at
dated Februar 6, 2021
Also interesting is that at Wirecard's annual shareholder meeting
on June 19, 2019, exactly one year prior to the balance sheet katastrophe, Thomas Eichelmann
was elected to Wirecard's supervisory board. Eichelmann previously had not only been CFO of Germany's Stock Exchange Corporation but also chairman of the supervisory board of Germany's construction giant Hochtief AG until September 2014, where Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska made a big investment around 2007
in order to coordinate gigantic construction projects for the Russian 2014 winter olympics city Sochi. In addition, another Austrian became deputy chairman
of Wirecard's supervisory board in 2019: Stefan Klestil, whom Eichelmann certainly knew well from the EU-funded IT-investment company Speedinvest
. There, Stefan Klestil is/was a full and Eichelmann a limited partner
. Stefan Klestil, son of former and 2004 died Austrian Federal President Thomas, whose funeral was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin
, has a stepmother who, after the death of her 1998 married husband, was made Austrian Ambassador to Moscow
from 2009 on, coincidentally also until 2014.
Special attention should also be paid to Christopher Bauer, who acted as a Wirecard partner from Manila and was responsible for around a fifth of all sales. Bauer's family in Germany announced in August 2020 that he had allegedly died of heart failure in the Philippines
, no official death certificate was issued according to the authorities there.
In October 2020, the German Bundestag decides to investigate the Wirecard matter. During this process, a whole new series of events surfaced, which to this day are either suppressed or completely ignored - almost like those at Munich's public prosecutor's office. The methods used at some highest political levels and with the help of Bavarian brute force aimed at making Wirecard grow under all and any circumstances, it seems. The political debris of the Wirecard scandal also proofs that Germany had almost entirely missed the emergence of the IT industry in the decades before
, with the rare exception of SAP maybe.
Details show that Germany's Finance Ministry in Berlin was informed already on February 19, 2019 about Wirecard's fraudulent acts. State Secretary Kukies told Finance Minister Olaf Scholz's employees
back then that their sub-organisation BaFin was "investigating [Wirecard] in all directions". It is astonishing that even by November 2019, when all financial flags regarding Wirecard were already in deep red, Kukies met with Wirecard's CEO Markus Braun for breakfast in Aschheim, apparently chatting about startups and cryptoassets there.
Perhaps all this was possible because of German Chancellor Merkel's trip
to China two months earlier, where the last and final act of the Wirecard grand poker game took place. In discussions with Chinese business representatives in September 2019 in China, the German Chancellor unabashedly promoted Wirecard, which shortly after made an offer to buy the Chinese online payment provider AllScore
. Merkel also visited the glorious Chinese city of Wuhan in September 2019
of course, a whole three months before the first COVID cases were reported there.
Long before the Chancellor's trip to China, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany's former Bavarian-born defense minister who lives in the US, knocked on many doors
. Via his New York based company Spitzberg Partners, zu Guttenberg was brought in as a lobbyist for Wirecard in order to enable and back up the Chinese AllScore deal. Already in September 2018, zu Guttenberg contacted the new German ambassador in Beijing through his high-profile consulting firm to promote Wirecard and its expansion in China
. A first meeting was made possible for Wirecard in Beijing on October 29, 2018, a much more important meeting took place there on January 23, 2019. Days before Merkel's trip to China, zu Guttenberg had a meeting "with his former boss [Merkel] on September 3, 2019", as one of his emails details
It is obvious that the public prosecutors in Munich rushed to "investigate" all possible players at the poker table aside from the actual corrupt ones, circumstances which lead to a special invitation for important justice officials from Munich and Bavaria to testify in front of the Bundestag Committee. At the end of January 2021, the Bavarian Minister of the Interior appears
in front of the Wirecard committee, who dares to mention to an astonished audience that it "would make sense for a company like Wirecard AG to be the subject of extensive supervision".
It is also unveiled that a former Bavarian State Police President was employed
by Wirecard from 2014 on. He supported a number of high-level contacts with politicians and consulates, including various police authorities. The retired and formerly highest police officer in Bavaria had multiple consulting contracts with various companies running. On January 29, 2021, one of Munich's many public prosecutors appeared in front of the German Bundestag committee
. She stated among other that Marsalek's lawyer was "contacted" by her when the missing 1.9 billion Euros on Wirecard's balance sheets were confirmed mid 2020. She "invited" him to visit her Public Prosecutor's Office
, which apparently happened only a week later since Wirecard told her that Mr. Marsalek was once again on a business trip. A first and quick inspection of the Prinzregentenstrasse 61 residence was carried out by Munich's public prosecutors on June 5, 2020, a real examination and search was not carried out until July 1, 2020, Marsalek and Vucak's villa was left untouched for almost a month.
A somewhat dubious affidavit in early 2019 shows that a former drug offender was apparently asked by Wirecard to state to Munich's public prosecutors that the Financial Times had allegedly offered Bloomberg News Service 6 million Euros. This, according to the affadavit, to demonstrate that Bloomberg was not only forced to run with FT-McCrum's reporting, but also that Bloomberg would blackmail Wirecard now. The affidavit was never really signed. However, Munich's public prosecutors wrote an important note
to Germany's banking supervisory authority and even explained this affadavit in more detailed telephone call to Bafin. Noteworthy is also that at a second appearance of Munich's public prosecutor at the Bundestag committee in mid February 2021, the testimony could not be recorded due to technical problems
and will most likely not be included in the final committee report.
The German Chancellery is also known for condemning new technologies, social media and even the Internet itself too easily and in a generalized way for uncovering facts about corruption. Investigative journalists are intentionally criminalised. If Merkel's advisors would have carefully researched Wirecard's takeover candidate in China, they would have been able to find out that there were also red flags all over AllScore
, especially with one of its parent companies named 'Joy Dragon Consultants Limited' which was incorporated
on June 12, 2019, it seems:
AllScore Payments is 98.24% owned by Beijing Apple Information Technology. This is made up by AllScore's management team and is 62.54% owned by Hong Kong based company Joy Dragon Consultants Limited and 28.1% owned by Shanghai Aiwu Investment Management Co. Ltd., which is not directly related to the current AllScore management team ... It is unclear why AllScore, a partner of the Bank of China, was chosen. They have already attracted negative attention several times in the past years. A total of 16 criminal violations include money laundering, breach of reserve requirements, unlawful dissolution of payment services, support of illegal platforms, violation of the KYC requirements, withholding of information, and many other violations ... Several minor penalties against [AllScore's] CEO Lin Yao and other directors have also accumulated in recent years.
(Report by Techkou.net
dated 4. August 2020)
That no one had any idea of Wirecard's and even AllScore's rather rough past in all these high-level political get togethers, conversations and interactions seems unreal. The fact that nobody had truly been informed about the financial problems that were boiling on Wirecard's balance sheets was clearly staged by players from Munich.
Or was it all just a daring poker game ?