Germany

Auditors and finance chiefs of some of Germany’s biggest businesses are worried that a new regulatory proposal intended to improve audit quality in the wake of the Wirecard AG scandal will lead to higher costs and less competition, the Wall Street Journal reported. German lawmakers currently are debating draft legislation for the so-called Act to Strengthen Financial Market Integrity. The law is expected to pass over the next few months, ahead of the country’s national elections in the fall.
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Credit Suisse Group AG’s double-barreled financial crisis shares a common theme: a bank that looked the other way when warning signs argued for pulling back on lucrative corners of its business, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Swiss bank with a big Wall Street presence was caught off guard starting in late February when $10 billion in complicated investment funds it ran with financing firm Greensill Capital unraveled, despite years of internal warnings about the relationship.
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A German lawyer handling the insolvency of Greensill Capital’s bank unit won a request to freeze the collapsed lender’s Australian assets, as part of an effort to cooperate with counterparts to recover as much as possible for the supply-chain finance firm’s creditors. Michael Frege had submitted an application to the Federal Court of Australia on March 31 asking for the court to hand over insolvency proceedings on the business to the German unit, where the entity has its “main interest,” according to court documents.
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D-RT Group, the parent of Dutch tour operator D-reizen, has been declared bankrupt, a court spokesman said on Tuesday, potentially affecting more than 1,000 employees, Reuters reported. The Netherlands has largely avoided corporate bankruptcies during the pandemic as employers are able to receive government support to continue paying employees. “This is a pitch black day for us” broadcaster NOS quoted CEO Jan Henne de Dijn as saying, adding the company, a unit of German firm Raiffeisen Touristik Group GmbH, had been in talks to avoid bankruptcy.
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Germany’s banking private banking association said on Monday that it had paid out around 2.7 billion euros ($3.17 billion) to more than 20,500 Greensill Bank customers as part of its deposit guarantee scheme after the bank collapsed last month, Reuters reported. The banking association said only a few customers had yet to receive compensation under the protection fund, which protects individuals but not institutional investors. Read more.
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The lawyer handling the insolvency of Greensill Capital’s bank in Germany has asked his counterparts in the U.K. and Australia to cooperate on sifting through what’s left of the supply chain finance firm, Bloomberg News reported. The administrators should work together on securing and managing the firm’s assets, according to a spokesman for Michael Frege, the lawyer handling the insolvency of Greensill Bank AG. Frege filed a lawsuit in London to safeguard the legal position of the bank, the spokesman said Wednesday. The case was filed earlier this week, according to court records.

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German towns and cities are pulling money from small, private banks, spooked after losing millions in the closure of Greensill Bank, an experience they said has shattered their faith in the country’s government and financial system, Reuters reported. Part of financier Lex Greensill’s insolvent Greensill Capital, the bank collapsed this month and triggered a 2 billion euro ($2.34 billion) bill for Germany’s deposit protection scheme. But towns and cities are excluded from this shield and are nursing losses of hundreds of millions of euros.
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Germany’s Finance Ministry gave explicit backing in 2019 to financial regulator BaFin’s controversial approach to fraud accusations at Wirecard AG, raising questions about its role in one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent history, Bloomberg News reported. In a March 2019 phone call, Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Kukies gave the head of BaFin, Felix Hufeld, broad support for his efforts to investigate the allegations, according to briefing documents for a parliamentary hearing on Wirecard seen by Bloomberg.

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Germany has extended its lockdown measures by another month and imposed several new restrictions, including largely shutting down public life over Easter, in an effort to drive down the rate of coronavirus infections, the Associated Press reported. Speaking early Tuesday after a lengthy video call with the country’s 16 state governors, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that restrictions previously set to run through March 28 will now remain in place until April 18.
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Germany aims to borrow 240.2 billion euros ($286 billion) this year, taking on just over 60 billion euros more debt than initially planned to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis, Bloomberg News reported. Heavy government spending is set to continue as the country grapples with a fresh wave of the pandemic.
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