Wirecard chief quits as shares plummet over missing €1.9bn

Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun has resigned with immediate effect after the German payments firm’s disclosure of a €1.9bn (£1.7bn) accounting black hole sent shares into a tailspin. Braun, who was named Wirecard chief executive in 2002, has plugged tens of millions of euros of his own money into the firm, which has seen its valuation plunge from €24bn at its launch on Germany’s Dax 30 just two years ago, to little under €3bn today. James Freis, who joined the company yesterday from Deutsche Boerse, has been appointed interim chief executive, Wirecard said in a statement today. Wirecard is holding emergency talks to secure a financial lifeline, according to people familiar with the matter; In a video statement published last night, Braun said it was “unclear” why the banks “have stated to the auditor that the confirmations are spurious”. He added that Wirecard may have become “the aggrieved party in a case of fraud of considerable proportions.” But analysts EY’s discovery yesterday of financial inaccuracies is the latest in a long string of accounting blunders for the company.