Wirecard or why compliance is important

Following the KPMG special audit report that uncovered substantial issues with the company’s compliance procedures, the DAX-listed German FinTech Wirecard has announced to create a dedicated compliance department to monitor compliance with laws and regulations. The department is becoming a board responsibility, which emphasizes the importance of the issue.

This soon to be implemented compliance department will be headed by the 49-year-old American James Freis who will become a member of the board as of July 1. Freis has been responsible for compliance at Deutsche Börse AG, Frankfurt, since 2014. Prior to this, he worked for the international law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Washington DC. Between 2007 and 2012, he was Director (CEO) of the United States Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), where he was a senior U.S. government official responsible for the regulation of financial institutions. Freis was also head of the U.S. Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which conducts investigations into the implementation of and compliance with laws.

The Chairman of Wirecard’s Supervisory Board, Thomas Eichelmann, was pleased to have welcome “an internationally recognized compliance expert” with him.

In view of the many problems that Wirecard has had with KYC/AML/CTF in the past, the appointment of an experienced compliance officer is an important step in the right direction. The investors welcomed Freis with much jubilation. Following the publication of Freis’ appointment on Friday after the close of trading, the share price rose in some cases by more than 10% at the start of trading on the following Monday.


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