German Ministry Under Pressure to Unveil Wirecard Discussion

The German government has come under pressure to reveal details of a conversation between the then-chief executive officer of Wirecard AG and a top finance ministry official seven months before it opened insolvency proceedings.

Markus Braun and a deputy finance minister, Joerg Kukies, held discussions on Nov. 5, the content of which the finance ministry had classified, according to a letter it provided to legislators inquiring into the matter.

“Given context of security interest, the content of the talks cannot be revealed, even after considering the interest for information of the representatives of the German Bundestag,” the finance ministry said in the letter seen by Bloomberg that addressed other issues, including the role of the financial regulator BaFin.

“In the answers I don’t see a real awareness of error by the federal government and BaFin,” said Danyal Bayaz from the Green party, one of the two legislators who had questioned the finance ministry. “Neglect is systematically blamed on a lack of authority.”

Asked why the meeting had been classified, a finance ministry spokesman, Christoph Kuhn, said during a news conference on Monday that lawmakers had on Friday been informed about the “the substance of a discussion” between the two.

“The government is working intensively on a comprehensive clarification pertaining to the events surrounding Wirecard,” Christoph Kuhn said.

Wirecard’s collapse has dealt a blow to Germany’s reputation as a bulwark of financial stability and opened questions about slack oversight in Europe’s largest economy. The country’s top financial watchdog, BaFin, is scrambling to uncover the extent of deception at the company as it faces questions over how the failure could have taken place under its nose.

Kukies, whose ministry oversees Bafin, has said the government will move quickly to overhaul its regulation of financial companies.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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