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Ex-CEO of Wirecard Arrested in Case Over Missing Billions

BERLIN – The former CEO of German payment service provider Wirecard has been arrested, accused of in..

BERLIN – The former CEO of German payment service provider Wirecard has been arrested, accused of inflating the company’s balance sheet in an accounting scandal that centers on a missing sum of 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion), prosecutors in Munich said Tuesday.

Markus Braun resigned on Friday after the company said that auditors couldn’t find accounts containing the money. On Monday, Wirecard said it has concluded that the money probably doesn’t exist.

Prosecutors said a court issued an arrest warrant shortly afterward and Braun, who had been in Vienna, turned himself in on Monday evening.

He is accused of inflating the company’s balance sheet and revenue using sham income from business with third-party acquirers, “possibly in collaboration with further perpetrators,” in order to “portray the company as financially stronger and more attractive for investors and clients,” they said in a statement.

Braun, an Austrian who had led Wirecard since 2002, was arrested on suspicion of incorrect statements of data and market manipulation.

Prosecutor Anne Leiding said it remains to be seen whether the case may expand to include other offenses, and investigators have yet to determine “how often, for example, these incorrect results were used to obtain loans from other banks.”

After Braun turned himself in, “he pledged his cooperation” in a first meeting with investigators, Leiding told reporters.

Wirecard AG was once regarded as a star of the growing financial technology sector, but its shares have fallen sharply after the company became the subject of multiple Financial Times reports about accounting irregularities in its Asian operations. Wirecard disputed the reports, which started in February 2019, and said it was the victim of speculators.

On Monday the company fired its chief operating officer, Jan Marsalek, who had been suspended from the management board last week. German news agency dpa reported that Marsalek had been in charge of overseeing daily operations including in Southeast Asia, where the possible fraud occurred.

Two Philippine banks that were said to hold the missing money in escrow accounts said in recent days that they had no dealings with Wirecard, and the country’s central bank chief said none of the missing money entered the Philippines’ financial system.

In the early hours of Monday, Wirecard said its management board “assesses on the basis of further examination that there is a prevailing likelihood that the bank trust account balances in the amount of 1.9 billion euros do not exist.”

Wirecard said it is in “constructive discussions” with banks on continuing credit lines, and is “assessing options for a sustainable financing strategy for the company.” It said it is examining other possible measures to keep the business going, including restructuring and disposing of business units.

After huge declines last week and on Monday, Wirecard shares rallied somewhat on Tuesday. They were up 19.8% in Frankfurt trading at 17.29 euros.

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UK travellers hope to salvage holidays as government eases quarantine rules

Issued on: 10/07/2020 – 17:09

The traditional British summer getaway to the sun-soaked beaches of ..

Issued on: 10/07/2020 – 17:09

The traditional British summer getaway to the sun-soaked beaches of the Mediterranean Sea is set to pick up steam Friday as U.K. quarantine restrictions are removed from dozens of countries, including France, Greece and Italy.

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But with many flights still canceled, holiday resorts still working on ensuring that they are Covid-safe and many potential holidaymakers reluctant to make a trip abroad in light of the pandemic, Britain's airports are much less busy than they would be in any other year.

However, last weeks announcement by the British government to ease its quarantine requirements for anyone arriving back in England has given some enough of a nudge to take the plunge.

“We probably would have gone later,” said Ray Gordge, 64, at Gatwick Airports North Terminal, south of London.

“Its exciting, Im pleased the quarantine has been lifted to be honest,” said Gordge, who was on his way to Paris to see his daughter for the first time in six months, and meet his new grandson, born last week.

As of Friday, anyone arriving back in England from around 75 countries and territories wont have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Boost for travel industry

The aviation and travel industries are hoping that the new rules will help them salvage part of the summer holiday booking season that has been so battered by the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic – thousands of people have lost their jobs as business ground to a halt.

The crucial period will be later this month after schools formally close for the summer and travel companies and airlines start ramping up operations. Confidence is key, though, and is susceptible to any new outbreaks that may start appearing over the coming weeks.

Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate said the relaxation of the rules can make a “massive difference,” given that around three-quarters of the destinations the airport serves are now free from quarantine requirements.

“From a consumer point of view, what were hoping is that will persuade people to take advantage of the flights,” he said.

Wingate said that there would be around 50 flights at the airport on Friday, rising to around 100 by the end of the month and possibly to around 400 later in the summer – way below the 900 or so the airport normally handles in the peak season.

Masks compulsory

The list does not include the United States, which is still considered high-risk. Portugal, another popular destination for British holidaymakers, also isn't on the list, though discussions between the respective governments are ongoing. Serbia was originally on the list but was removed on Friday because of a spike in coronavirus infections in the country.

One of the major changes that will greet holidaymakers is the necessity tRead More – Source

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Netherlands takes Russia to European court over 2014 downing of Flight MH17

Issued on: 10/07/2020 – 15:51

The Dutch government is taking Russia to the European Court of Human..

Issued on:

The Dutch government is taking Russia to the European Court of Human Rights for its alleged role in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine six years ago, the foreign minister announced Friday.

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The move is intended to support individual cases being brought to the European court by relatives of some of the 298 people who were killed when a Buk surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Moscow Ukrainian rebels blew the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight out of the sky on July 17, 2014.

“Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the governments highest priority,” Foreign Minister Stef Blok said. “By taking this step today … we are moving closer to this goal.”

By launching the case against Russia, the Dutch authorities can share “all available and relevant information about the downing of Flight MH17” with the Strasbourg-based European court so it can be considered in individual relatives' cases, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement in the downing of the Boeing 777. An international team of prosecutors investigating the case has, however, charged three Russians and a Ukrainian with involvement in bringing down the plane and the murder of all on board. The men are on trial in a Dutch court, although none have been extradited to the Netherlands to face justice.

Today, NL submits an inter-State application against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights, for its role in the downing of MH17. By doing this, the government is seeking to offer maximum support to the cases brought by next of kin of MH17 victims. https://t.co/2KXuWRqL3A

— Stef Blok (@ministerBlok) July 10, 2020

Prosecutors say they have evidence the missile that blew MH17 out of the sky was trucked into Ukraine from a Russian military base and the mobile launcher was later returned to Russia.

The Russian foreign ministry didn't immediately react. KonstRead More – Source

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Merkel press office staffer ‘worked for years for Egyptian intelligence’

Issued on: 10/07/2020 – 09:21

A former employee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's press of..

Issued on: 10/07/2020 – 09:21

A former employee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's press office was discharged in December last year on suspicions that he was spying for Egypt, according to a government report seen by German media on Thursday.

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Police carried out "executive measures" against the man in December 2019 after he was found to have "worked for years for an Egyptian intelligence service", according to the report.

The Federal Public Prosecutor confirmed that the man was charged on suspicion of espionage and that the investigation is ongoing.

Local newspaper Bild said the man worked for the visitor service of the federal government press office (BPA), headed by Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert

He was a mid-level employee, meaning he would have completed an exam and at least two years of vocational training.

The premises of the visitor service were searched as part of the investigation, Bild reported.

A spokesman for the BPA told AFP it would not comment on ongoing investigations or personnel matters.

The main tasks of Egyptian secret service agents in Germany include gathering information about members of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the government report.

They are also interested in members of the Coptic Christian community and in recruiting Egyptian nationals as spies, it said.

"There are indications that Egyptian services are trying to recruit Egyptians living in Germany for intelligence purposes tRead More – Source

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