Prosecutors drop Wirecard insider trading probe into ex-Deutsche board member

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Wirecard AG updates

German prosecutors have dismissed a criminal probe into former Deutsche Bank supervisory board member Alexander Schütz over allegations of insider trading in Wirecard shares.

Prosecutors in Stuttgart said on Monday that they decided against opening a formal investigation after evaluating a complaint filed in April by BaFin, Germany’s financial watchdog.

The authorities said evidence put forward by BaFin did not justify launching a probe.

BaFin and Schütz declined to comment on the decision, which was first reported by Reuters.

Schütz was a close confidant of former Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun, who has been in police custody for more than a year after the Munich-based payments company collapsed in one of Germany’s biggest accounting frauds with €1.9bn of corporate cash missing.

He is also a longtime friend and business associate of Christian Angermayer, a financier who brokered Japanese group SoftBank’s €900m investment in Wirecard in 2019.

BaFin said in its criminal complaint that it suspected Schütz had used inside information on several occasions in 2019 and 2020 when trading Wirecard shares, people with direct knowledge of the matter told the Financial Times in April.

Schütz resigned from Deutsche Bank’s board in May after he was publicly rebuked for controversial comments made in a personal email to Braun more than two years ago.

After the FT had revealed a Wirecard investigation into whistleblower allegations in Singapore in January 2019, Schütz had urged Braun in an email to “do this newspaper in!!”, adding that he had recently bought shares in the payments group.

After the email was made public by the parliamentary inquiry into the Wirecard scandal in January, Schütz apologised for his “emotional and inappropriate statement”. Deutsche called the email unacceptable.

When he announced his resignation in March, Schütz insisted it was unrelated to the controversy around the email.

Schütz had joined the board of Germany’s largest lender in 2017 when Chinese conglomerate HNA started buying up shares, ultimately building a 9.9 per cent holding that made it the bank’s largest shareholder.

HNA’s stake was funded using a complex financing structure held by Schütz’s Vienna-based investment vehicle, C-Quadrat, and a chain of offshore holding companies. The stricken Chinese group has gradually unwound its investment, and Schütz for a while personally held HNA’s remaining ownership, turning him briefly into one of the lender’s top 20 shareholders.

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