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German regulator examines stock trades by Wirecard CEO

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim near Munich, Germany April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s market regulator said on Friday it was investigating whether Markus Braun, the CEO of payments firm Wirecard, had violated insider-trading rules by buying stock during the quiet period before publication of its annual report.

“We are examining whether the share purchase did indeed violate the trading ban,” a spokeswoman for regulator Bafin said, confirming a Financial Times report that Braun this week bought Wirecard stock worth 2.5 million euros ($2.78 million).

Braun bought the shares through his investment company MB Beteiligungsgesellschaft, helping lift Wirecard shares on Thursday. “Capital market rules were fully met,” an MB representative said without elaborating, while Wirecard declined to comment.

Under normal circumstances, executives are not allowed to deal stocks in listed companies in the 30 days before results are published. There can be exceptions with executive incentive schemes or if a company reports its main figures early.

Wirecard, which is fighting a series of allegations of fraud and false accounting by the FT, has delayed the release of its annual results to June 18 after an outside audit by KPMG failed to verify its financial reports.

KPMG, after a months-long investigation, said it was not able to verify Wirecard’s accounting for 2016 through 2018, sending its shares into a tailspin and handing a profit to short sellers who have bet against the stock.

Reporting by Hans Seidenstuecker and Patricia Uhlig; Writing by Douglas Busvine; editing by David Evans

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