Wirecard forecasts no damage to business from pandemic

Via Financial Times

Wirecard announced on Wednesday that a strong additional surge in online transactions in Asia and Europe had compensated for the negative effects of coronavirus on its payments processing business.

The Dax-listed technology group is one of the few large companies to predict no impact on its pre-pandemic forecasts for 2020, even as it has blamed Covid-19 for delays to the publication of audited financial statements for 2019.

Wirecard has substantial exposure to the travel industry. The company said it assumed an easing of coronavirus restrictions would “reactivate the airline and travel business” later this year.

The announcement was made as the Dax-listed group faces intense scrutiny over its accounting practices, following a special audit by KPMG that did not resolve questions over its financial statements.

KPMG said it was unable to verify whether arrangements responsible for the “lion’s share” of profits from 2016 to 2018 were genuine, and did not receive bank confirmations or statements to establish the existence of €1bn of cash.

Wirecard’s share price has fallen 28 per cent since publication of the KPMG report on April 28, to give it a market capitalisation of €11.7bn. Release of full-year figures approved by Wirecard’s longstanding auditor, EY, has since been twice postponed and is now scheduled for June 18, when the group said it would “provide detailed reports on growth plans and intended structural measures”.

The group last month appointed a chief compliance officer, who is set to join Wirecard’s supervisory board on July 1. Wednesday’s statement said that with the appointment Wirecard “will in future make itself less susceptible to any suspicion directed against the company”.

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The KPMG special audit was launched in October after the Financial Times published documents indicating that sales at Wirecard businesses in Dubai and Dublin had been fraudulently inflated.

German regulator BaFin has said that multiple investigations were continuing and that the group also faced a criminal investigation in Singapore into alleged accounting fraud at eight Asian subsidiaries.

Wirecard has denied any wrongdoing and on Wednesday reiterated its position that suspicions over its Singapore business “have been conclusively cleared up”.

Wirecard also said that with regard to the transactions and account balances that KPMG could not verify: “Corresponding evidence was provided in the course of the audits of the consolidated financial statements. It is therefore incorrect to assume that there is no evidence whatsoever for these transactions.”