Wirecard’s CEO and largest shareholder Markus Braun steps down.

On Friday, the chief executive of the German payments firm Wirecard abruptly stepped down Friday after the company announced that nearly 2 billion euros in cash balances had gone missing. The firm’s chief compliance officer, James Freis, would take up the CEO role in the interim.

Everything started when auditors announced that they could not locate €1.9 billion ($2.1 billion) in cash that was supposed to be in Wirecard’s accounts.

Wirecard, a 21-year-old company that provides digital payment services for merchants such as retailers, travel sites, and gambling sites, is a big player of Europe’s fintech scene, so when 2 billion euros in cash went missing without a very concise explanation in short order, Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, said he feared Wirecard is headed to zero. The company, according to CNN Business, has nearly 6,000 employees in 26 countries around the world and reported revenues of over €2 billion ($2.2 billion) in 2018, or more than four times the figure from 2013.

Germany’s financial regulator, BaFin, is running three simultaneous investigations into Wirecard. The Financial Times reported Friday that two of Wirecard’s biggest investors, Union Investment and DWS, had threatened legal action against the company.


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