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Monday, December 6, 2021

Wirecard: A Billion Euro Lie, review – the thrilling scandal that had thousands of Germans fooled

Wirecard was allegedly perpetrating fraud on a staggering scale, accused of money laundering and inflating profits. One part of this, the film claimed, involved illegally distributing millions of pounds worth of gambling proceeds in the US via network or British shell companies; one address for such a company turned out to be a house in Consett, Co Durham. Wirecard denies any wrongdoing.

The directors, Benji and Jono Bergmann, told the story through talking heads, which meant that visually it felt a bit lacking. There was no voice-over, only the testimonies of people involved, from company employees to investigators. The majority of staff, a former executive insisted, assumed that they were working for a legitimate enterprise and couldn’t believe what they heard. “It’s a German company. Germans don’t do this sort of thing,” said one. That same belief may explain the unwillingness of authorities to investigate.

The film kept the story simple. By the end, Wirecard’s CEO was in custody and its COO was on the run. There was a reminder in the postscript that thousands of small investors lost their life savings; it may have read like a Hollywood thriller at times, but the rise and fall of Wirecard had real-world consequences. 

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