BaFin examines Wirecard chief’s share purchase

Germany’s financial markets watchdog is examining whether Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun violated insider trading rules when he bought €2.5m of shares in the payments group this week.

The purchase on Thursday took place inside the 30-day closed period ahead of Wirecard’s full-year results, scheduled for June 18, a time when executives are usually prohibited from stock trading.

Shares in the Dax 30 member rose 3.9 per cent to €94 following the news of the purchase. 

“We are evaluating if the transaction actually violated the trading ban,” a BaFin spokeswoman told the Financial Times. “There are some exceptions, for instance for employee share purchase plans that have been set up ahead of the closed period.”

The move by Mr Braun, Wirecard’s single largest shareholder, lifted his stake by 0.02 percentage points to 7.07 per cent. 

“A person discharging managerial responsibilities is not allowed to conduct any transactions relating to the shares [ . . .] during a closed period of 30 calendar days before the announcement of an interim financial report or a year-end report,” BaFin states on its website.

There is an exception if a company has previously published preliminary figures that “contain all the key information” to be published in the annual report, according to the European Securities and Markets Authority.

Wirecard published preliminary figures for revenue and operating profit in February but has not reported balance sheet or cash flow numbers since November. The BaFin spokeswoman said that it was taking this aspect into account.

The regulator can fine individuals who violate the trading ban up to €500,000 and institutions up to €1m. 

Wirecard declined to comment. Mr Braun’s family office, MB Beteiligungsgesellschaft, which holds his stake in the company, said that the transaction was “not legally objectionable” and that “the requirements of capital market law were complied with in full”, adding that “all necessary information was publicly known”.

The BaFin examination of Mr Braun’s share purchase adds to a list of regulatory and legal issues for Wirecard that include a BaFin probe of possible market manipulation related to the company’s statements during the past 18 months as it fought whistleblower claims of accounting fraud — allegations Wirecard has denied.

Shares in the group fell as much as 42 per cent following publication of a report from KPMG into the claims last month.

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