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How Wirecard Went From Tech Star to Bankrupt

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How Wirecard Went From Tech Star to Bankrupt

Prosecutors are probing whether the electronic-payments giant used fictitious revenue to inflate its sales and fool investors; a missing $2 billion

The Wall Street Journal,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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What's inside?

Wirecard is the 2020 iteration of Enron-style corporate fraud on a colossal scale.

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Enron, Tyco and WorldCom: Now add to this list of massive corporate accounting frauds the name Wirecard, a global transaction and payment processor that on June 17, 2020, carried a market valuation of $14 billion but was declared insolvent a week later. The swift implosion arose from deceptive accounting practices and a $2 billion cash shortfall. In this compelling and detailed narrative, Wall Street Journal reporter Paul J. Davies explores Wirecard’s shadowy world.


Wirecard is another corporate story of accounting fraud and deceptive financial practices.

Same story, different decade: The case of Wirecard resembles past complex scams that have deceived investors, analysts and auditors through bogus business activity. In the early 2000s, Enron was the bad actor; now Wirecard has taken on that mantle.

Wirecard was a high-flyer, or so it seemed. In its financial statements, the firm claimed that it executed $140 billion in transactions annually for some 225,000 clients. This volume made it a competitor to Wall Street juggernaut companies like Square and PayPal. 

Auditors could not verify $2 billion in liquid assets, and within eight days, the company declared bankruptcy...

About the Author

Paul J. Davies is a senior markets reporter for The Wall Street Journal in London. 

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