Markus Braun als Opfer von Jan Marsalek? Staatsanwalt zerlegt Verteidigungsstrategie von Ex-Wirecard-Chef
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For a long time, the prosecution in the Wirecard trial remained silent. Now, they are countering the defense strategy of former CEO Markus Braun. His lawyers have presented a version of events in recent months that the prosecution strongly rejects. Chief prosecutor Matthias Bühring referred to it as an „alternative scenario“ created by the defense, led by renowned lawyer Alfred Dierlamm, in an attempt to portray Braun as a victim. They are trying to shift blame onto other defendants, suspects, the prosecution, and even the court, and are introducing irrelevant facts to distract the court from the actual proceedings.
The trial against Braun and two other former managers of the Aschheim financial conglomerate began last December. Braun denies all allegations against him. Since the reading of the indictment, the prosecution has largely refrained from commenting and only addressed specific facts. Braun’s defense, led by Dierlamm, submitted extensive evidence requests in mid-July to support their perspective on the scandal. The prosecution responded to these requests in writing on 160 pages, with Bühring summarizing it in court.
Since the beginning of the investigation in the summer of 2020, the defense and prosecution have been disputing the same key question: Did Wirecard’s so-called third-party business exist or not? Wirecard claimed to operate this business in order to process payments in more remote markets, particularly in Asia, through external partner companies, and received commissions for referring customers. The proceeds, amounting to approximately two billion euros at its peak, were supposed to be held in trust accounts in Singapore and later in the Philippines.
The prosecutors and the insolvency administrator are convinced that the third-party business mostly did not exist and there was no money in the trust accounts.
Braun and Dierlamm, on the other hand, claim that this business did indeed exist, but the partners, along with the fugitive former executive Jan Marsalek, colluded together to divert money to Wirecard through shadow companies and profit for themselves without Braun’s knowledge. They have submitted extensive emails, bank statements, and other materials to the court and have requested witnesses to support their account.
The prosecution, however, considers the motion for evidence inadmissible for formal reasons. The defense does not correctly add numbers and does not clarify which evidence should specifically support their claims. Dierlamm, on the other hand, repeatedly accused the prosecutors of conducting sloppy and incomplete investigations and ignoring extensive payment flows.
Am Kern der Anklage vorbei
Prosecutor Bühring now explained that Brauns and Dierlamms‘ representation completely misses the core of the accusation. The defense also assumes that the two billion euros were not on the trust accounts. However, this is crucial for charges of fraud and market manipulation, not the question of whether the money was elsewhere. It is also irrelevant whether Braun was aware of the „alternative scenario,“ i.e., the embezzlement of funds by alleged partners through shadow companies, as it is not the subject of the indictment.
Besonders scharf griff Bühring die Darstellung der Verteidigung an, Marsalek und verbündete Drittpartner hätten Erlöse aus der Zahlungsabwicklung für lukrative Onlinehändler abgezweigt, die eigentlich Wirecard zugestanden hätten. Der Oberstaatsanwalt nannte das Beispiel eines solchen Händlers, der offenbar mehrere kinderpornografische Internetseiten betrieb. Wie so ein Händler »als werthaltig angesehen« und als Beleg für Untreue zulasten von Wirecard angeführt werden könne, sei »nicht nachvollziehbar«. Offenbar habe im Konzern die Bereitschaft bestanden, Zahlungen für »gambling, Raubkopien oder sogar Kinderpornografie« abzuwickeln.
The prosecution stated that they have suspicions of money laundering in such and many other cases. The authority has been investigating this suspicion for years, although it is not the subject of the ongoing court process. There has been a combination of money laundering, balance sheet fraud, and embezzlement. In legal circles, it is said that further charges can be expected, as the prosecution still has numerous suspects and additional accusations may be made against the already indicted managers.
Braun’s lawyer, Dierlamm, announced that the defense intends to respond to the statements made by the prosecution. „We will not let this go unaddressed,“ he said. Judge Markus Födisch prevented an immediate reaction („We are not going to engage in a back-and-forth game“), but will allow Dierlamm an opportunity to respond at a later time. On Thursday, Dierlamm initially submitted new evidence requests to support Braun’s account.