Germany missed chances to catch Wirecard - source

Germany missed chances to spot the brewing trouble at Wirecard.

That’s according to a Reuters source with knowledge of behind-the-scenes talks.

National regulators reportedly twice looked into tightening supervision of the payments firm.

But ultimately took no action.

That despite years of allegations of fraud by some investors and journalists.

The firm then declared insolvency last week, after admitting that 2.1 billion dollars of cash on its books probably didn’t exist.

CEO Markus Braun has since been arrested and then released on bail.

The source says German financial regulator BaFin first considered putting Wirecard on a supervision list in 2017.

There were more talks, this time involving the ECB, in late 2019.

But they dragged on into 2020, and were then overtaken by events.

The lack of urgency is likely to intensify criticism of BaFin.

It’s already under fire for investigating the investors and reporters who questioned Wirecard.

One whistleblower faced a criminal inquiry after alleging fraud at the firm.

Last week the European Commission asked its markets watchdog to investigate whether BaFin failed in its duties.

That could lead to a rare and humiliating rebuke for a national regulator.