German audit supervisor suspended for Wirecard trading

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The head of the German audit watchdog has been suspended with immediate effect after admitting to trading Wirecard shares while investigating the company’s auditor, as the fraudulent payment group collapse continues to make wreaking havoc on the German business landscape.

The move to relocate Apas chief Ralf Bose was designed to “safeguard” the “integrity” of the watchdog while it is under investigation, the federal office said on Monday. economy and export control, an agency under the Ministry of Economy in a statement.

In another move, it emerged on Monday that German financial regulator BaFin, tasked with investigating Mr Bose’s stock trading, had fired an employee for breaking disclosure rules on buying and selling shares. securities linked to Wirecard. Three other BaFin employees are being questioned about similar allegations.

Apas and BaFin, two of the biggest regulators of German companies, have come under fire for Wirecard-related stock transactions. During the first half of 2020, 56 BaFin employees disclosed 196 private transactions in Wirecard securities.

Mr. Bose did not respond to a request for comment. A former senior partner at Big Four auditor KPMG, who has led Apas since 2016, he told the German parliament last week that he bought Wirecard shares in April and sold them – at a loss – the following month. At that time, Apas was in confidential talks with BaFin via Wirecard.

Matthias Hauer, MP for Angela Merkel’s CDU / CSU bloc, called Mr Bose’s suspension a “consequent decision” because his stock deals were “absolutely unacceptable” and “undermined confidence in Apas’ independence. “.

In October, BaFin banned employees from trading in stocks and other securities in companies it oversees. An internal investigation showed that four employees this year had violated disclosure rules by reporting transactions in Wirecard securities with delays of two to eight months.

One of the employees left BaFin at the end of November after his contract was terminated, the finance ministry said on Monday in response to a written inquiry from Frank Schäffler, MP for the Free Liberal Democrats.

“The German financial regulator is acting like a banana republic,” Schäffler said, adding that this puts pressure on Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

The Finance Ministry said BaFin had so far found no evidence that staff were using insider information when trading Wirecard shares and noted that the four employees who violated disclosure rules did not work in departments involved in the Wirecard affair.

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