DrThe German Association for the Protection of Securities (DSW) wants to push audit firm EY to find a way to compensate Wirecard investors out of the courts. For this purpose, after about a year of preparation, DSW has set up a non-profit foundation under Dutch law. According to DSW, the Dutch compensation fund should not only target EY Germany. But also EY Global, that is, the network of international auditors to which the German arm of EY in charge of examining Wirecard business numbers belongs.
With this tool, DSW wants to aggregate claims from 30,000 registered private investors and a total loss of €1.5 billion. Other investors can join for free if they haven’t already sued EY for compensation for their Wirecard losses by other means. This also applies to investors who are not based in Germany. Mark Tongler, CEO of DSW, described the enterprise on Wednesday as “perhaps a slightly smarter solution” than other alternatives. Intended is the investor test case against EY, the opening of which is currently being examined by the Higher Regional Court in Bavaria. Additionally, as of March, there are 900 individual lawsuits against EY by Wirecard victims in the Munich Regional Court.
Open the third way to the goal
There are now three ways for investors to obtain potential compensation from auditors: the Dutch corporation with the compensation fund, the investor test case and the individual lawsuit. Their common denominator is that shareholders and creditors of Wirecard, a former Dax member who went bankrupt in June 2020, are seeking damages from the audit firm in charge of the company, EY. EY has examined and approved Wirecard’s annual balance sheets since 2009, i.e. confirmed compliance of business numbers with legal regulations. EY just refused to certify the 2019 annual financial statements, and Wirecard had to admit that 1.9 billion euros was missing. This was followed by filing for bankruptcy shortly thereafter.
According to Andreas Lang, a partner at law firm Nieding + Barth, Wirecard was supposed to report a loss rather than a profit in 2017. The audit firm KPMG, later called in as a private auditor, admitted immediately and without forensic methods that there was no confirmation On the existence of allegedly high bank balances. EY failed to obtain these assurances from independent third parties. For auditor Ulrich Harnacke, part of the DSW Presidium, it was clear very early on that EY had violated basic audit routine at this point.
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