Jan Marsalek, the former chief operating officer of Wirecard, is reportedly on the run. According to a report from German news outlet Handelsblatt, Marsalek is currently in Russia—under the supervision of the Russian secret service—after fleeing Germany where he is facing an arrest warrant. The news outlet also reported that “Marsalek is said to have brought significant sums to Russia in the form of BTC from Dubai, where Wirecard had operated dubious operations.”
Nach der Verhaftung des ehemaligen Wirecard-Chefs will sich die Staatsanwaltschaft Zugriff auf den langjährigen COO Marsalek sichern. Der könnte sich auf den Philippinen befinden. https://t.co/6LlRTqdRoN
— Handelsblatt (@handelsblatt) June 24, 2020
Marsalek, digital currency, and Russia
Marsalek has a history of being interested in digital currency and interacting with Russian state officials. According to the Wall Street Journal, Marsalek invested $7 million in the Telegram TON blockchain ICO in 2018. In addition, one of Marsalek’s friend’s told the Wall Street Journal that Marsalek “liked engaging in late-night discussions about cryptocurrencies and their ability to move money without a trace.”
The former Wirecard executive is clearly familiar with digital currencies and their pseudo-anonymous properties. The fact that Marsalek discussed digital currencies in relation to being able to “move money without a trace” could indicate that Marsalek was interested in using digital currencies for illicit activities.
In addition, according to Bellingcat, the investigative journalism website that specializes in fact-checking and open-source intelligence, “Marsalek was a frequent visitor of Russia, with over 60 trips to the country in the last 10 years,” and he would typically stay in Russia for under 24 hours when he would visit.
Both Marsalek’s interest in digital currency and his frequent trips to Russia serve as evidence that Marsalek probably has a good rapport with quite a few people in Russia, that it may be of interest for the Russian government to protect him, and that Marsalek knows how to use digital currencies to make transactions without a paper trail.
What’s next for Wirecard?
Marsalek being on the run is the latest news to come out of the Wirecard scandal, which began in late June when Ernst & Young discovered that there was a $2.1 billion discrepancy between the amount of money the company actually had on hand and the amount of money that it reported on its consolidated balance sheet. It would not be surprising if the next event to come out of the Wirecard scandal relates to law enforcement officials locating and arresting Marsalek.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.