Wirecard shares plummet as payments firm postpones annual report

Wirecard’s logo can be seen on a smartphone held in front of a stock market chart.

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Wirecard shares plunged more than 60% on Thursday as the German payments giant postponed its annual results once again and said auditors could not confirm the existence of 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in cash on its balance sheet.

The Munich-headquartered company said in a statement Thursday morning that auditor EY couldn’t find the cash balances — which represent roughly a quarter of its balance sheet. There were indications that “spurious balance confirmations” had been made by a trustee to “deceive the auditor and create a wrong perception of the existence of such cash balances,” it added.

“The Wirecard management board is working intensively together with the auditor towards a clarification of the situation,” the firm said. It added that the delay in getting its accounts signed off by EY could mean loans of around 2 billion euros would be called in early this week. 

Wirecard’s share price cratered immediately after the news, and was trading almost 64% lower by 8:40 a.m. ET.

The embattled group has fallen from its position as one of Germany’s top financial technology darlings to a company mired in controversy due to allegations of fraud. The firm was at one point last year worth more than 24 billion euros and even replaced Commerzbank in the German blue-chip index, but has since seen its market capitalization decline to just 6.5 billion euros

The Financial Times has published a series of reports on its investigation into Wirecard’s accounting practices. According to those reports, which began back in January 2019, Wirecard’s Singapore office tried to inflate revenue through forged and backdated contracts. Another story in October claimed that Wirecard’s staff appeared to conspire to inflate sales and profits at subsidiaries in Dubai and Dublin and mislead EY.

Wirecard was not immediately available for comment on these reports when contacted by CNBC.

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