German authorities are on the hunt Thursday for a business executive accused by federal police of committing “fraud in the billions”.
Jan Marsalek, the former chief operating officer of bankrupt payment company Wirecard, is suspected to have fled Germany after learning police were in pursuit of him. A poster issued by federal authorities depicts a 2017 photograph of the 40-year-old Austrian with a full beard and mustache, and a 2019 picture of him clean-shaven.
Marsalek “is strongly suspected of having committed billions in commercial gang fraud, the particularly serious case of embezzlement and other property and economic offenses,” the poster reads. “He is currently on the run.”
Interpol also put Marsalek on its most-wanted list Thursday, issuing a so-called red notice for him on allegations of “violations of the German duty on securities act and the securities trading act, criminal breach of trust (and) especially serious case of fraud.”
Munich-based Wirecard filed for protection from creditors through an insolvency proceeding on June 25 after executives admitted that $2.2 billion that had been represented as being held in trust accounts in the Philippines probably did not exist.
Former CEO Markus Braun has been arrested in the aftermath, along with the company’s former chief financial officer and former head of accounting.
As chief operating officer, Marsalek was in charge of all operational business activities, including sales, and is suspected of having inflated the balance sheet total and sales volume of the company, police said.
Acting with Braun, Marsalek is alleged to have incorporated “fictitious proceeds from payment transactions relating to deals with so-called third-party acquirers in order to present the company financially stronger and more attractive to investors and customers,” police said.
Anyone with any information on Marsalek is asked to contact Munich police or prosecutors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.