Trials: Wirecard: Third defendant wants to break silence

Trials: Wirecard: Third defendant wants to break silence
Trials: Wirecard: Third defendant wants to break silence

It could be a turning point in the Wirecard trial: so far only one of three defendants has confessed, and former CEO Braun has denied everything. Now the proceedings are moving forward.

After more than one and a half years, a milestone has been reached in the Munich Wirecard trial: The third defendant, E., who has remained silent since the trial began in December 2022, plans to testify for the first time on the charges on July 17. Presiding Judge Markus Födisch announced this date at the beginning of the 134th day of the trial.

The former chief accountant of the Dax group that collapsed in 2020 confirmed his personal details at the start of the trial, but otherwise did not say a word about the matter in the course of the mammoth proceedings so far. The IV Criminal Division of the Munich Regional Court under Födisch’s leadership has promised E. a prison sentence of between six and eight years in return for a confession. Now E. wants to give a very detailed statement: the chamber is planning two days for his interrogation.

E. wants to describe “his view of things”

It is not yet clear to what extent the former chief accountant intends to admit or deny the charges in his statement. “Our client has decided to contribute to clarifying the facts,” said defense attorney Sabine Stetter. He will describe “his view of things” and is prepared to answer questions from the court and the other parties involved in the proceedings.

The main charge against E., the former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun and the manager Oliver Bellenhaus, who worked for Wirecard in Dubai until 2020, is commercial gang fraud: The three, together with several accomplices, are said to have invented billions in sales in order to keep their actually loss-making company afloat.

In its indictment, the Munich public prosecutor’s office estimates the fraud damage at a good three billion euros. So far, it’s one person’s word against another’s: Braun, the main defendant, who has been in custody for four years, has staunchly denied all allegations. Bellenhaus, on the other hand, has admitted most of the charges and made serious accusations against Braun. The Austrian manager, for his part, has repeatedly accused Bellenhaus of lying through his defense attorneys.

Statement could have consequences for Braun’s fate

Braun also does not deny that Wirecard Group was defrauded on a very large scale, but the real perpetrators are said to have been others. According to Braun, the former sales director Jan Marsalek, who has been in hiding since the summer of 2020, and Bellenhaus are said to have shifted billions in the group’s revenue into their own pockets without the CEO knowing anything about it or even being involved in it.

E.’s statement is therefore also of great importance for Braun’s fate: If the accountant admits to a large extent to the charges, this would worsen the 54-year-old’s situation in the trial. However, if E. rejects significant parts of the charges, this could support Braun’s argument.

Presiding judge expects extensive confession from E.

The course of the trial so far does not indicate that the chamber believes Braun’s argument: He is the only defendant still in custody, while Bellenhaus, who is the prosecution’s key witness, was released on bail in February. E. had already been released from custody months before the trial began.

In any case, the presiding judge, Födisch, has made it clear several times in recent weeks that he expects a far-reaching confession from Es. The judge, the defense attorney and the public prosecutor have already held two legal discussions about a possible deal in recent weeks, resulting in the sentence of six to eight years in prison mentioned by Födisch. Defense attorney Stetter called another legal discussion about a possible deal “conceivable.”

Source: Stern

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