Rent payment clue in the hunt for Wirecard’s Jan Marsalek

Wirecard AG updates

Munich police have investigated an €80,000 payment from a bank account in Dubai to the landlord of Jan Marsalek’s fiancée in Munich, which could prove a rare link to the fugitive former Wirecard executive.

The 41-year old Austrian fled in June 2020 just days before Wirecard crashed into insolvency after admitting that €1.9bn of cash and half of its revenues did not exist. Marsalek, who is on Interpol’s most wanted list, is accused of “fraud in the billions” by Munich prosecutors.

The crash of the once high-flying electronic payments company, which at its peak in 2018 was a member of Germany’s blue-chip Dax stock index worth €24bn, is one of Europe’s biggest postwar accounting scandals.

Marsalek left behind his longtime girlfriend in Munich, who has been interrogated by police several times, according to people briefed on the investigation. As Marsalek and his girlfriend were engaged, she can claim spousal privilege and refuse to give testimony.

Marsalek’s fiancée was renting a luxury flat in Munich, paying a monthly rent of about €6,600. Earlier this year, her landlord received a one-off payment of close to €80,000, representing the value of 12 months’ rent.

The money was wired from a bank account in Dubai from a person with an Arabic name, and came with the reference “für Jan” (“on behalf of Jan”). The money was wired to the bank account used to administer the tenant’s deposit, which is different from the one used to settle the monthly rent payments, people briefed on the matter told the Financial Times. The landlord reported the payment to police, according to these people.

A spokeswoman for Munich’s public prosecutors told the FT that investigators received a suspicious activity report from the landlord’s bank in that context, and declined to comment further on the payment, which was first reported by Handelsblatt.

It is unclear if the person in whose name the money was sent really exists, or if it was an alias used by Marsalek. A name very similar to the sender’s is listed as a client of one of Wirecard’s Asian business partners in one of the documents reviewed by KPMG during its special audit into Wirecard.

Lawyers for Marsalek and his fiancée did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Marsalek is one of the most wanted white collar suspects globally. One day after Wirecard’s auditor EY in June 2020 refused to sign off the group’s 2019 results, Marsalek took a taxi to a small airport in Austria, where he boarded a private jet that he paid in cash, according to an Austrian police document seen by the FT.

He flew to Minsk, where his trace was lost. “We will eventually get him,” Munich’s chief prosecutor Hildegard Bäumler-Hösl told MPs during a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal earlier this year.

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