The Strategist

Germany launches investigation into Lithuanian fintech start-up over Wirecard scam

05/18/2021 - 04:00

Munich prosecutors have suspected that a fintech start-up from Lithuania was involved in the theft of €100m of German payment service Wirecard. Jan Marsalek, Wirecard's absconding chief financial officer, received more than a third of the missing money, according to investigators.

Sofia Rocha
Sofia Rocha
Munich prosecutors are investigating a possible link between Lithuanian fintech company Finolita and the theft of more than €100 million from German payments service Wirecard, which has a €1.9bn hole in its balance sheet following its bankruptcy in 2020, informed sources have told the Financial Times.

Prosecutors suspect that hundreds of millions of euros were withdrawn from Wirecard's accounts shortly before its collapse and some of the money was transferred to former Wirecard chief financial officer Jan Marsalek, who is now wanted by Interpol at Germany's request. Documents seen by the FT show that Finolita handled some of the money. 

Finolita was founded in 2013 and was bought by Singapore's Senjo Group in 2017. Finolita describes itself as a "one-stop solution" for merchants in need of international banking, and offers services including to "high-risk" customers, including gambling companies.

In the first quarter of 2020, Senjo and its structures borrowed around €350m from Wirecard, including €100m borrowed by a subsidiary of the Ocap group. This €100 million was transferred to Finolita's accounts, documents show. Up to €35 million of this went to Marsalek, who used it to partially repay funds borrowed from Wirecard CEO Marcus Brown's fund, sources familiar with the investigation said. 

Other interlocutors noted that Brown himself used these funds to pay off a debt of €35 million, which he borrowed at the beginning of 2020 from Wirecard Bank. The fate of another €65 million from the Wirecard loan to Ocap is unknown. Ocap itself declared insolvency in December.