Insolvency administrator demands dividends back from major shareholders

Payment service provider Wirecard

Berlin, Düsseldorf The insolvency administrator of the former Dax group Wirecard is demanding dividends back from major shareholders. Corresponding letters of repayment were recently sent to “well-known major shareholders,” a spokesman for Michael Jaffé confirmed to the Handelsblatt on Friday, “because there is no legal basis for the dividends paid out.”

Specifically, it is about the dividends for 2017 and 2018. Jaffé primarily contacted professional and institutional investors such as the Frankfurt fund boutique Acatis, the spokesman said. No claims will be asserted against private investors “in coordination with the creditors’ committee”.

Wirecard went bankrupt in June 2020 after 1.9 billion euros were missing from the books. The public prosecutor’s office accuses the former board of directors around the fugitive manager Jan Marsalek of having inflated the payment service provider’s balance sheet with fictitious transactions. According to his status report from mid-June, Jaffé is also convinced: Wirecard generated “no profits, but significant losses” in 2017 and 2018.

The Munich regional court also saw it that way and declared the financial statements for the two years legally invalid. At the time, the presiding judge had said with regard to alleged fictitious bookings amounting to billions: “If this business did not exist and the balance sheets are not correct, then the annual financial statements are void.” In the Wirecard case, it is about dimensions “that are at the Nothingness can not be doubted”.

Jaffé’s demand comes as no surprise. The insolvency administrator had long ago announced that he would demand the money back. Dividends paid out without valid resolutions must be “repaid to the insolvency administrator,” said Jaffé’s spokesman. The insolvency administrator is obliged to “assert these claims” in the interests of the creditors. “Manager Magazin” first reported on the letters of demand.

Wirecard: Almost 50 million euros paid out in dividends

For the years 2017 and 2018, Wirecard reported profits totaling more than 600 million euros and paid out over 47 million euros in dividends – especially to major shareholders such as MB Beteiligungsgesellschaft of former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun.

Braun denies being involved in fraud at Wirecard. He currently has to answer before the Munich regional court. His lawyers assume that a group around Marsalek embezzled billions behind Braun’s back using a “shadow structure”.

There is a simple reason why Jaffé does not address the reclaims to small investors. As the insolvency administrator calculated in the past, he would only expect a repayment of 25 euros from an investor with securities with a market value of 10,000 euros at the time. It’s hardly worth looking for an investor for that. The dividend was 18 cents per share in 2017 and 20 cents per share in 2018.

Meanwhile, in Germany, investors have filed claims totaling more than 15 billion euros in insolvency proceedings due to their immense price losses as a result of the scandal. In contrast, Jaffé has been able to collect less than a billion euros so far.

More: Arrested suspected Russian spy maintained contacts with Jan Marsalek

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