(Bloomberg) — Angela Merkel promoted Wirecard AG during a past state visit to China before she was aware of potential irregularities at the payments company.
“During her discussions in China, the chancellor mentioned Wirecard along with topics affecting other companies,” Merkel’s deputy spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Monday at a regular government press conference in Berlin. “The chancellor definitely wasn’t aware of irregularities at Wirecard at the time,” she added, without specifying the time frame.
Wirecard, a member of Germany’s benchmark DAX index, became a national disgrace when it said last month that a quarter of its balance sheet probably doesn’t exist. That set off a blame game between banks, auditors and public authorities and revealed large gaps in the country’s oversight of non-financial companies.
Questions have also been raised about what government officials knew about Wirecard’s problems and when they were informed about them. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz was aware of potential market manipulation at the digital payments company in Feburary 2019, almost a year and a half before the company collapsed.
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