German payments firm Wirecard has hired KPMG to carry out an independent audit to deal with allegations by the Financial Times that its accounting team had sought to maximize reported sales and profits, it mentioned Monday.
The company, promoted to the DAX blue-chip index in 2018, has been the target of a spate of investigative reports by FT reporter Dan McCrum, with the latest, on Oct. 15, knocking over 20% off its share price.
It has denied the newspaper’s latest allegations, based on internal spreadsheets and communication, that Wirecard’s senior finance team had sought to maximize reported sales and income at its businesses in Dubai and Ireland.
The FT’s reporting has led to calls on Wirecard from investors and company governance advocates to hire an outside auditor to clear up the matter as well as to demonstrate that it meets the governance standards of a top-tier public firm.
The audit will begin instantly, Wirecard said, adding that KPMG would report back to the company’s supervisory panel and have unrestricted access to information at all levels of the firm.
Thomas Eichelmann, chairman of the audit board of Wirecard’s supervisory panel and a former CFO of Deutsche Boerse AG, will help the audit on behalf of Wirecard.
Wirecard has long been a favorite goal of short-sellers, or speculators who seek to profit from the airing of negative information that drives down a corporate’s share price.
In-house auditor EY signed off on Wirecard’s 2018 accounts in April after an earlier FT report alleged fraud and false accounting at the firm’s Singapore subsidiary.