Stichting Wirecard Investors Claim (SWIC) is a non-profit foundation incorporated under the laws of the Netherlands. SWIC was founded with the express goal of bringing Wirecard investors together in order to seek compensation from EY for their damages as a result of the Wirecard fraud. Such compensation may be achieved through litigation or via a settlement agreement (or, if necessary, a combination of the two).
The foundation’s choice of location in the Netherlands is deliberate. It opens up the possibility of achieving a collective settlement with EY that could subsequently be declared binding on all European investors by the Dutch courts.
The board of the foundation is currently comprised of two financial experts: renowned Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl (as chairman) and accountant and experienced director Arie van der Steen.
With its experienced board, its team of expert financial and legal advisers, and strong partnership with the DSW (the major German investors action group), the foundation is uniquely equipped to achieve the best possible result for injured Wirecard investors.
Chairman of the board
Gunther Friedl is Professor of Business Administration at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), where he holds the Chair of Management Accounting and is Dean of the TUM School of Management. Previously, he was a professor at the University of Mainz, and he has taught abroad at Stanford University and the Warsaw School of Economics.
Professor Friedl is a renowned expert and an accomplished author in the fields of corporate governance and (financial) accounting. His work is often quoted in (international) media such as Handelsblatt and the Financial Times. In addition to his academic work, Professor Friedl sits on several committees and advisory boards, including the Advisory Committee of the German shareholder action group DSW. He is regularly asked to comment on topical issues in the news media, including the Wirecard scandal.
“Wirecard is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular insolvency cases in the post-war period. In addition to Wirecard’s business creditors, tens of thousands of investors were duped into believing that they were investing in the next big tech giant, losing billions of Euro’s in the process. The individual and societal impact, in no small part the thousands of private investors who have invested their savings, is devastating.
Although Wirecard is the ultimate perpetrator, I believe that this massive fraud would not have been possible if not for EY’s failure to properly audit the company’s accounts for years on end. If EY had carried out its duties in accordance with professional standards from the start, Wirecard’s fraudulent business would have been exposed long ago.
It is clear that EY is also to blame for the losses suffered, and I am keen to contribute to the foundation’s efforts to obtain meaningful compensation for Wirecard investors.”
Arie van der Steen is a financial expert and a seasoned executive, with specific experience in collective redress and mass litigation. He serves on the (supervisory) board of several foundations seeking compensation for injured parties in various cases (for example related to the so-called “diesel-gate” emissions scandal and the trucks cartel). In addition to his executive experience, Arie is also an accountant.
His knowledge and experience with respect to collective redress in general, and financial matters in particular, make him an ideal addition to the foundation’s board, alongside its chairman, professor Gunther Friedl.
"The extent of the fraud at Wirecard is shocking. It is clear that Wirecard has misled thousands of investors causing EUR billions in losses. Speaking from my own experience as an accountant, I cannot understand how the group auditor EY approved Wirecard’s accounts year after year, ignoring the many red flags that the accounts were fraudulent.
I am honoured to contribute to this initiative as a board member of the foundation and eager to take the fight to EY on behalf of injured Wirecard investors.”
Deutsche Schutzvereinigung für Wertpapierbesitz e.V. (DSW) is the leading German association for private investors. Founded in 1947, DSW now has approximately 30.000 members.
In addition to representing the interests of private investors, both at general meetings and at a political level, DSW provides a wide range of services for its members. These services include free out-of-court initial advice on all matters relating to investments, representing their members at around 700 annual general meetings every year, and litigating fundamental (legal) issues on behalf of its members.
DSW has extensive experience with cases of mass litigation in which large numbers of investors’ claims are bundled. Recent examples of DSW successes include cases regarding Deutsche Telekom, Fortis, Shell, and Argentinian and Greek government bonds.
Nieding+Barth Rechtsanwaltsaktiengesellschaft has been one of the top law firms in the field of capital markets law in Germany for many years. To date, the firm has brought about more than 50 decisions on investment and investor protection at the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). The total amount of claims being handled for private and international institutional investors now totals approximately EUR 20 billion.
Amongst the firms many successes in court is its appeal to the German courts to appoint a special auditor to conduct an investigation into Volkswagen AG in relation to the “diesel-gate” scandal in 2017 and 2019. Similar successful appeals were previously made with respect to Deutsche Bank AG and Philipp Holzmann AG. Nieding+Barth is also currently representing the lead plaintiff in the capital investor model proceedings (KapMug) against Porsche Automobil Holding SE in connection with the diesel scandal.
Nieding+Barth is advising the foundation as German counsel and, should EY refuse to reach a settlement, will be representing registered participants of the foundation in the subsequent court proceedings against EY.
AKD is a leading full-service law firm employing approximately 300 lawyers, civil law notaries and tax advisors from 6 offices across the Benelux. The firm has broad experience handling international mass litigation and settlements, acting on behalf of injured parties of various types (investors, consumers and businesses). Recent examples of AKD’s involvement in mass litigation cases include the “diesel-gate” and the “truck cartel” scandals, in which AKD is advising the respective foundations founded to obtain compensation for injured parties.
AKD is advising the foundation as Dutch counsel alongside the German law firm Nieding + Barth.
Injured Wirecard investors may register with the foundation free of charge. All costs (including legal costs for litigation and/or settlement) are borne by the foundation. In order to finance the initiative the foundation has obtained external funding from a professional third-party litigation funder.
The foundation’s services to participants are provided on a “no-cure-no-pay” basis. This means that the Foundation will only receive a fee if the Foundation is successful in obtaining compensation for the participants.
In the event of a settlement or successful litigation against EY, the compensation will be split between the injured Wirecard investors (75%) and the foundation (25%). The foundation’s fee of 25% of the compensation will be used to cover the foundation’s costs. This for instance includes legal and other advisory costs, as well as the satisfaction of the third-party funder’s return on investment. The exact terms and conditions of participating in this initiative will be laid down in a participation agreement with the foundation.
The foundation itself is strictly a non-profit organisation.
As investor claims related to the Wirecard scandal will not expire until late 2023 at the earliest, the foundation has taken the time necessary to thoroughly investigate the possibilities of obtaining compensation for injured investors. Considering the fact that Wirecard itself has been declared bankrupt, its investors will likely have to look elsewhere for recourse. It is clear from subsequent investigations into the scandal that Wirecard’s auditor EY consistently failed to spot (or chose to ignore) the many red flags that pointed to the widespread fraud within the company it was supposed to audit.
The foundation and DSW agree that pursuing investors’ claims against the global EY firm (not just EY Deutschland) is the logical choice in this respect. EY Global breached fundamental supervisory obligations and minimal compliance standards in relation to EY Deutschland. EY, being one of the biggest global accounting firms, should also have the financial position to offer injured Wirecard investors meaningful recourse for their losses.
The foundation enjoys strong support from major German investor association DSW and has the necessary experience and knowhow to take on EY. The fact that the foundation is incorporated in the Netherlands opens up the possibility of concluding a settlement with EY which can be declared collectively binding by the Dutch courts on all Wirecard investors.
Last but not least, injured Wirecard investors who join this initiative do not bear the risk of legal costs. All in all, the SWIC is uniquely situated to reach the best possible result for injured Wirecard investors. Over 30,000 injured investors already declared their interest in pursuing this matter with DSW.
The foundation was incorporated with the express goal of serving the interests of injured Wirecard investors. The foundation makes every effort to be transparent about the progress of the initiative and to keep participants involved as much as possible in the decision-making on important issues. We will keep our registered participants informed regarding the progress that is being made, and we are always available for any questions regarding the Wirecard scandal, the foundation, and its goals and activities.