BERLIN German lawmakers on Wednesday questioned Finance Minister Olaf Scholz over his failure to detect and prevent the Wirecard accounting scandal, one of the biggest in post-war history.
Payment services company Wirecard filed for insolvency last month after admitting that 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) supposedly held in trustee accounts by overseas partners probably did not exist.
Prosecutors have arrested former Wirecard Chief Executive Markus Braun and two other former executives on suspicion of orchestrating a years-long criminal racket to inflate revenue and balances to hide losses dating back at least to 2015.
Scholz entered the closed-door meeting in the parliament’s finance committee without giving a statement to reporters, but he earlier told public broadcaster ARD that no mistakes had been made.
“What has to be done has been done,” Scholz said, adding that a big, internationally renowned accounting firm had also not detected the irregularities at Wirecard for many years.
Scholz last week rushed out a reform agenda that would give financial watchdog BaFin greater investigative and enforcement powers, broaden its mandate to cover non-banking financial institutions, and toughen penalties against lax auditors.
Florian Toncar, a lawmaker from the opposition pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), accused the government of failing for years to detect the massive accounting scandal.
Fabio De Masi, a lawmaker from the opposition Left party, called for the installation of a more formal investigative committee in parliament to bring to light who exactly knew what at which time and therefore had to be held accountable.
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For Scholz, the scandal comes at an unfavorable time, as he hopes to become the lead candidate of his Social Democrats (SPD) to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel in a general election next year.
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