Salomé Lemasson, head of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli's EU business crime group, details the case's significance.
Germany has now filed its first criminal charges over the collapse of electronic payments provider Wirecard.
In a statement, the Munich district court said that local prosecutors have filed 26 charges of fraud, money laundering and accounting violations against the managing director of German investment fund IMS Capital Partners.
The individual – referred to the court as "Aleksandar V'' – is accused of helping to launder more than €22 million in funds embezzled from Wirecard. Prosecutors have said that he spent at least €8 million of this buying and renovating a property in Munich and creating an office in Switzerland.
German corporate records show an Aleksandar Vucak as the managing director of IMS Capital Partners before it was liquidated two years ago.
Prosecutors have alleged that the accused helped two other individuals launder Wirecard's stolen money through a fund that was created to provide investment for German start-up companies.
The court refers to the two other individuals as "Jan M" and "Rami El O". Wirecard's former chief operating officer was Jan Marsalek. Rami El Obeidi is a Libyan intelligence official who reportedly made contact with Wirecard critics before the collapse of the firm.
German authorities have issued an Interpol red notice for the arrest of Marsalek, who left Germany days before Wirecard revealed a €1.9 billion hole in its accounts and filed for insolvency, owing almost €4 billion.
This investigation is, along with Cum-Ex, one of the largest financial investigations carried out by German prosecutors. They are proving to be quick to act, as the scandal only came to light in June 2020.
The Wirecard scandal raises questions about how German financial regulators allowed such a situation to develop. It has also prompted change.
According to early statements, the financial supervisory authority BaFin did not believe it had jurisdiction over Wirecard, as it was not a financial holding but a fintech (a new technology that aims to improve and automate financial services).
But shortly after the scandal, the German parliament adopted the German Act to Strengthen Financial Market Integrity, which granted more powers to BaFin. It now has more extensive rights of access to information, greater powers to conduct searches and seize assets and the ability to question members of the executive board of an audited company and its auditors.
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