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Singapore police raid Wirecard office following FT reports

Reuters  |  FRANKFURT/SINGAPORE 

By and John Geddie

FRANKFURT/(Reuters) - police raided the premises of German payments company in the city state on Friday following a series of investigative reports in alleging fraud and

The raid intensified pressure on Munich-based Wirecard, a constituent of Germany's blue-chip index that has shed $10 billion in value since the FT ran the first of a series of three investigative reports at the end of January.

has rejected the FT reports as defamatory and said earlier on Friday it would sue the newspaper.

"Police confirm that they have raided the premises of entities in Singapore," a told

police opened inquiries this week following the FT's reporting, which cited the preliminary findings of an investigation by firm that found evidence of series offences of forgery and

Wirecard said: "We actively approached the authorities yesterday and pledged our full cooperation in the investigation activities.

"This morning, Wirecard met with Singapore enforcement at Wirecard's headquarter in Singapore and provided the police with comprehensive supporting material in regards to their enquiry into the defamatory allegations in the FT series of articles.

"We would like to reconfirm that the accusations against employees of Wirecard are unfounded. We are working closely with the to clear all allegations."

The FT did not respond to a request for comment.

Wirecard Markus Braun, the company's largest shareholder with a 7 percent stake, said on Monday that no evidence had been found of criminal misconduct either by the company's own compliance team or by Investigations were continuing and would be finished quickly, he said.

Wirecard, founded in 1999, has been a perennial target for - market players who seek to profit from falls in a company's share price - who have questioned its accounting methods and rapid international expansion.

Yet it also has strong support in the financial community, with 24 out of 28 market analysts rating the stock either a 'strong buy' or a 'buy', according to data.

Their median price target is 210 euros - more than double Friday's level of 101.15 euros, down 9 percent on the session.

LEGAL ACTION

An FT story, published online on Thursday, alleged that Wirecard staffers had engaged in the 'round tripping' of funds to inflate reported revenues, and that managers from its head office had been aware of the practice.

"In the article published yesterday, Wirecard employees are slanderously prejudged with unproven and false allegations," Wirecard said in an earlier statement.

"We will use all available legal means to protect the company and in particular our employees and their personal rights. Wirecard is taking legal actions against FT and its unethical reporting."

Wirecard did not say in which jurisdiction it planned to bring legal action. A added the company would act to protect the personal reputations of individuals named in the newspaper's reporting.

The company was also cooperating with the authorities in ongoing investigations into suspected market manipulation in Wirecard stock being conducted by the state prosecutor with the backing of financial regulator Bafin.

Contacted by Reuters, the prosecutor said it was aware of the raid but this did not change its view that there was insufficient evidence to launch a criminal probe against Wirecard's managers.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, additional reporting by in London; Editing by Keith Weir; Editing by Michelle Martin/Keith Weir)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 08 2019. 21:29 IST
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