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Wirecard破產引發德國股東史詩級大維權

Wirecard破產引發德國股東史詩級大維權

Bernhard Warner 2020年07月06日
對Wirecard提起集體訴訟的股東人數將創歷史新高,比五年前大眾排放門參與訴訟的股東還要多。

和德國股市中的眾多散戶一樣,法比安?施密特差不多把Wirecard視為不可錯失的機會。這位37歲的駐院麻醉師利用業余時間炒股,目的是存一筆錢,以便為自己即將增員的家庭買一所更大的房子。

盡管一系列新聞報道一再對Wirecard的資金狀況提出質疑,施密特還是在5月份滿倉買入了這只股票。但一直有人發出警告稱(尤其是做空者和《金融時報》負責調查的記者),這家快速增長的金融科技公司的財務數據根本對不上。

不過,施密特越發相信,作為市值一度超越德意志銀行的DAX30指數重磅成分股,Wirecard正在順利實現自己的增長目標。該公司談吐流利而且充滿信心的前CEO讓施密特接受了這樣的觀點。

施密特對《財富》雜志表示:“我發現馬庫斯?布勞恩相當有說服力。當時他說空方正在對Wirecard下手,想在他們身上牟利。”

去年,Wirecard首席執行官馬庫斯?布勞恩(右)和首席財務官亞歷山大?馮?諾普在慕尼黑召開的年度新聞發布會上發言。由于19億歐元(21億美元)賬面資金不翼而飛,股東已著手對該公司提起集體訴訟。攝影:Michaela Handrek-Rehle—Bloomberg/Getty Images

據施密特回憶,布勞恩保證說:“我們是一家非常穩定的企業。作為DAX指數成分股,我們的審計機構安永給我們的都是正面評價。”

讓施密特下定決心的是德國聯邦金融監管局(BaFin)投出的信任票。他后悔地說:“布勞恩提到了BaFin,這對我來說意義非凡。”

投資者損失慘重

盡管上個月出現反彈,但6月17日以來Wirecard的股價已下跌90%以上。

上月底,這家支付服務公司不得不承認,自家賬目上神秘失蹤的21億美元資金很可能根本就不存在,其股價應聲暴跌。

施密特就是在這個時候拋掉了這只股票,損失了幾千歐元。但看到接下來出現的情況后,他發誓一定不會靜悄悄地走開。

6月22日,調查人員開始調查布勞恩和其他高管在本次賬目造假中可能發揮的作用。一天后,Wirecard申請破產保護。

在安永,長期以來一直負責Wirecard審計工作的人員現在也感覺到了事態的嚴重性。為了給自己辯護,安永堅持說Wirecard進行了一次“精心策劃而且復雜的欺詐”,但關于Wirecard一開始怎樣在安永眼皮底下做了這筆假賬的爭論并未因此平息。

近幾天,這場丑聞開始牽扯到德國監管部門。從布魯塞爾到波恩,人們紛紛要求對監管部門進行整頓。

全國性覺醒

Wirecard的墜落引發了整個德國投資界的覺醒。據一位律師估計,對Wirecard提起集體訴訟的股東人數將創歷史新高,比五年前大眾排放門參與訴訟的股東還要多。

施密特就是起訴Wirecard的當事人之一。

他抱怨說:“真正讓我感到震驚的是BaFin。他們真的什么也沒干。我跟他們一樣愚蠢”,沒有去調查一下關于該公司財務作假的消息。“但他們本該更仔細地進行審查。這是他們的工作。讓我如此憤怒的就是這一點。正因為這樣我才去了律師事務所,我告訴他們‘如果你們要組織一次大型訴訟,那就把我算進去’。”

《財富》雜志已要求BaFin發表評論,但后者未做出回應。Wirecard則在電子郵件中向《財富》雜志表示,該公司“目前不會發布任何新的公告。”

針對Wirecard的訴訟由德國律師事務所TILP Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH牽頭。據TILP律師馬克?席費爾介紹,要求參與訴訟的股東已超過3萬人。

席費爾告訴《財富》雜志:“有些人損失了全部退休存款。”近幾天,TILP將起訴對象擴展到了Wirecard的現任和前任董事們,包括布勞恩和安永。

安永則堅持說自己受到了誤導。

對施密特來說,他的主要目標是看到德國監管部門對公司進行監控的方式出現變化。他說:“監管者未能履行職責,對我來說是這一點讓本次事件變得如此獨特。”(財富中文網)

譯者:Charlie

去年,Wirecard首席執行官馬庫斯?布勞恩(右)和首席財務官亞歷山大?馮?諾普在慕尼黑召開的年度新聞發布會上發言。由于19億歐元(21億美元)賬面資金不翼而飛,股東已著手對該公司提起集體訴訟。攝影:Michaela Handrek-Rehle—Bloomberg/Getty Images

和德國股市中的眾多散戶一樣,法比安?施密特差不多把Wirecard視為不可錯失的機會。這位37歲的駐院麻醉師利用業余時間炒股,目的是存一筆錢,以便為自己即將增員的家庭買一所更大的房子。

盡管一系列新聞報道一再對Wirecard的資金狀況提出質疑,施密特還是在5月份滿倉買入了這只股票。但一直有人發出警告稱(尤其是做空者和《金融時報》負責調查的記者),這家快速增長的金融科技公司的財務數據根本對不上。

不過,施密特越發相信,作為市值一度超越德意志銀行的DAX30指數重磅成分股,Wirecard正在順利實現自己的增長目標。該公司談吐流利而且充滿信心的前CEO讓施密特接受了這樣的觀點。

施密特對《財富》雜志表示:“我發現馬庫斯?布勞恩相當有說服力。當時他說空方正在對Wirecard下手,想在他們身上牟利。”

據施密特回憶,布勞恩保證說:“我們是一家非常穩定的企業。作為DAX指數成分股,我們的審計機構安永給我們的都是正面評價。”

讓施密特下定決心的是德國聯邦金融監管局(BaFin)投出的信任票。他后悔地說:“布勞恩提到了BaFin,這對我來說意義非凡。”

投資者損失慘重

盡管上個月出現反彈,但6月17日以來Wirecard的股價已下跌90%以上。

上月底,這家支付服務公司不得不承認,自家賬目上神秘失蹤的21億美元資金很可能根本就不存在,其股價應聲暴跌。

施密特就是在這個時候拋掉了這只股票,損失了幾千歐元。但看到接下來出現的情況后,他發誓一定不會靜悄悄地走開。

6月22日,調查人員開始調查布勞恩和其他高管在本次賬目造假中可能發揮的作用。一天后,Wirecard申請破產保護。

在安永,長期以來一直負責Wirecard審計工作的人員現在也感覺到了事態的嚴重性。為了給自己辯護,安永堅持說Wirecard進行了一次“精心策劃而且復雜的欺詐”,但關于Wirecard一開始怎樣在安永眼皮底下做了這筆假賬的爭論并未因此平息。

近幾天,這場丑聞開始牽扯到德國監管部門。從布魯塞爾到波恩,人們紛紛要求對監管部門進行整頓。

全國性覺醒

Wirecard的墜落引發了整個德國投資界的覺醒。據一位律師估計,對Wirecard提起集體訴訟的股東人數將創歷史新高,比五年前大眾排放門參與訴訟的股東還要多。

施密特就是起訴Wirecard的當事人之一。

他抱怨說:“真正讓我感到震驚的是BaFin。他們真的什么也沒干。我跟他們一樣愚蠢”,沒有去調查一下關于該公司財務作假的消息。“但他們本該更仔細地進行審查。這是他們的工作。讓我如此憤怒的就是這一點。正因為這樣我才去了律師事務所,我告訴他們‘如果你們要組織一次大型訴訟,那就把我算進去’。”

《財富》雜志已要求BaFin發表評論,但后者未做出回應。Wirecard則在電子郵件中向《財富》雜志表示,該公司“目前不會發布任何新的公告。”

針對Wirecard的訴訟由德國律師事務所TILP Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH牽頭。據TILP律師馬克?席費爾介紹,要求參與訴訟的股東已超過3萬人。

席費爾告訴《財富》雜志:“有些人損失了全部退休存款。”近幾天,TILP將起訴對象擴展到了Wirecard的現任和前任董事們,包括布勞恩和安永。

安永則堅持說自己受到了誤導。

對施密特來說,他的主要目標是看到德國監管部門對公司進行監控的方式出現變化。他說:“監管者未能履行職責,對我來說是這一點讓本次事件變得如此獨特。”(財富中文網)

譯者:Charlie

Like so many German retail investors, Fabian Schmidt saw Wirecard as a near can’t-miss stock opportunity. A 37-year-old resident anesthesiologist, Schmidt trades stocks in his spare time as he looks to save up money to buy a bigger house for his growing family.

Schmidt went all in on Wirecard in May despite a series of news articles that again called into question the company’s finances. Short-sellers and investigative journalists at the Financial Times, in particular, had been sounding the alarm that the finances of the fast-growing fintech just didn’t add up.

Schmidt, though, grew convinced the Dax 30-listed juggernaut, which at one point surpassed Deutsche Bank in market cap, was on the road to hitting its growth targets. The smooth and confident former CEO sold him.

“I found Markus Braun quite convincing,” Schmidt told Fortune. “He was saying the short-sellers are out to get us. They’re trying to profit off of us.”

Schmidt recalled Braun’s assurances: “We are a very stable enterprise. We are a member of the Dax, and we’ve been rated positively by our auditor, Ernst & Young.”

What sealed it for Schmidt was a vote of confidence from BaFin, Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, which oversees listed companies and financial firms. “Braun cited BaFin,” Schmidt said ruefully. “That meant a lot to me.”

Investors lost their shirts

Despite Tuesday’s rally, shares in Wirecard are down more than 90% since June 17.

Last week, the payment-processing specialist had to admit that the $2.1 billion that mysteriously vanished from its books probably never existed, sending shares crashing.

That’s when Schmidt bailed on the stock, losing thousands. But after seeing what happened next, he vowed not to walk away quietly.

On June 22, investigators stepped in to probe what role Braun and other executives might have played in the financial fraud. A day later Wirecard filed for insolvency protection.

Wirecard’s longtime auditors at EY are now feeling the heat too. In its defense, EY insists Wirecard pulled off an “elaborate and sophisticated fraud,” but that’s not enough to chill the controversy over how the firm missed the cover-up in the first place.

In recent days, Germany’s regulators have been pulled into the scandal as well. From Brussels to Bonn, there are calls to overhaul the overseers.

A national reckoning

The fall of Wirecard has triggered a national reckoning in Germany’s investor community. By one attorney’s estimate, a record number of shareholders are expected to join in a class-action lawsuit against Wirecard—more than even the numbers who took Volkswagen to court during Dieselgate in the past decade.

One of the Wirecard litigants is Schmidt.

“BaFin is what really shocked me,” he grumbled. “They literally did nothing. I was as stupid as they were” to not check into the allegations of financial wrongdoing at the company. “But they should have looked closer. It’s their job. This is what makes me so angry. This is why I went to the law firm. 'If you are organizing a big lawsuit,' I told them, ‘then count me in.’”

BaFin did not respond to Fortune's requests for comment. Wirecard said in an email response it is "currently not making any further statements."

According to Marc Schiefer, an attorney at the German law firm TILP Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, which is spearheading the legal push against Wirecard, more than 30,000 shareholders have asked to join the lawsuit.

“Some people just lost their whole retirement savings,” he told Fortune. In recent days, TILP has expanded its legal claim to include current and former Wirecard board members, including Braun, and EY.

The audit firm maintains they were the ones who were misled.

For Schmidt, his big fight is to see changes in the way German regulators oversee the companies on their watch. “What makes this story so unique to me—the failure of regulators to do their jobs,” he says.

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