SKANDAL! Bringing Down Wirecard is now streaming globally on Netflix and tells the story of one of the biggest accounting frauds of the 21st century.
The much anticipated documentary has been directed by Emmy-nominated filmmaker, James Erskine, and produced by an Academy Award-winning production studio, Passion Pictures.
The FT’s Inside Wirecard series meticulously documents the 7-year journey of Dan McCrum and FT journalists, who essentially took down the ‘online payments giant’.
What is the Netflix documentary about?
Wirecard was a German fintech company, which gained incredible traction in its early years by fabricating the truth behind the company’s true financial position. The documentary consists of “the lying, the spying, the dirty tricks” and how through it all, FT journalists and KPMG uncovered the truth behind Wirecard’s fraudulent financial reporting.
Netflix describes the documentary as ‘scandalous’, ‘investigative’ and ‘suspenseful’. But for the team of journalists involved, it has been an arduous journey to exposing the truth.
Dan himself appears in the documentary as the protagonist who, alongside a ‘tenacious team of journalists’, led to the collapse of the German payment processor. The audience also gets an insight into the difficulties they faced individually, as Wirecard did its level best to ‘squash the story and discredit the FT’.
It's an incredible story of our age, the kind of case that makes you say: wait a minute, that just can't be true! We hear a lot about dirty money, and this film shows just how dangerous it is when that dirty money comes after you. It’s a privilege to bring it to the screen with Netflix and Passion Pictures, and to share it with a global audience.Investigative Reporter, The FT
The FT’s coverage on Wirecard:
The FT initiated its coverage on Wirecard back in 2015, when there were perceived concerns around the inconsistencies within its accounts.
It wasn’t until January 2019 that the FT published its first story on the Singapore investigation, after staff members contacted the FT about internal investigations that had been allegedly ‘squashed’. The story was immediately labelled as false and Wirecard accused the FT of market manipulation.
If the company for three months is showing a tendency to discredit and destroy, then the only way to protect yourself is to do what I did: take some incriminating data just as a shield.Former Lawyer, Wirecard AG
KPMG’s special audit of Wirecard occurred during October 2019. The report proved the FT to be accurate in its allegations, as KPMG could not verify exactly what had generated the majority of Wirecard’s profits between the years of 2016 and 2018. The report also called into question the €1bn of cash balances by a Singapore trustee who had ‘cut ties’ just as the audit began.
In June 2020, just as Wirecard collapsed into insolvency, Dan McCrum released a video outlining how he, alongside FT journalists, unveiled the massive accounting fraud. In September 2020, he published a full account of his experience in a comprehensive article for Inside Wirecard.
Want to know more about the scandal?
Though Wirecard finally agreed that there was a discrepancy in their accounts, they disagreed that the billions were missing, stating they were simply ‘imaginary’.
The documentary sheds light on the dangers of taking businesses like Wirecard at face value. Dan had to chip away many lies to reveal what remained hidden under ‘Wirecard's glossy surface’, that a supposed €1.9bn they claimed to have in their accounts, simply ‘did not exist’.
FT editor Roula Khalaf also stated how this story proved the importance of maintaining free press, for the purpose of unveiling the truth behind companies such as Wirecard.
...free press is fundamental and must be protected.Editor, The FT
Dating back to January 2018, the FT provides an extensive collection of resources relating to the Wirecard story. Readers can add Wirecard AG to their myFT page to remain up-to-date with the latest news regarding current lawsuits against the German payment processor.
Key stories to deepen your understanding on the scandal:
- Find out what KPMG found in their special audit of Wirecard
- See FT’s full timeline of Wirecard from when it was founded to when it filed for insolvency
- Learn Dan’s experience of ‘intimidation, surveillance and conspiracy theories’ through his own words
- Discover how former Wirecard employee Pav Gill contacted the FT to expose the company
Latest news coverage on Wirecard:
The importance of credible journalism:
This story reaffirms the importance of trusted market intelligence in identifying risks, to give businesses a chance to foresee the dangers in certain corporate ventures. Netflix’s documentation of Wirecard will hopefully help spread awareness around the value that market intelligence can provide in maintaining a competitive advantage.
FT readers gain the most benefit when they first respond to the signals picked up by FT journalists. Initial questions around Wirecards accounting practices were raised back in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2020 that these accusations had been proven correct. Therefore, organisations who acknowledged the signals picked up by the FT, gained a substantial advantage as they moved towards mitigating the associated risks or used the situation to their favour. However, those who did not respond suffered a knock-on effect from the firm’s collapse in 2020.
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