German financial oversight head out after Wirecard scandal

BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany’s financial supervisory authority will leave the job as the agency is reorganized in the aftermath of the accounting scandal at payment systems provider Wirecard, the finance ministry said Friday.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said after the scandal erupted last year that he wanted to revamp the country’s financial oversight system.

One-time tech star Wirecard filed for protection from creditors through insolvency proceedings in June after admitting that 1.9 billion euros ($2.3 billion) that was supposedly held in trust accounts in the Philippines probably did not exist.

German authorities have been criticized for failing to step in sooner despite reports of irregularities dating back at least five years. Scholz has called for giving the financial supervisory authority, BaFin, new powers.

The finance ministry said that it and BaFin president Felix Hufeld decided by mutual agreement on Friday that, as well as organizational changes, a “new beginning” is needed in the agency’s leadership.

Hufeld, who has led BaFin since 2015, said in a statement released by the ministry that the agency has “in many ways gained in relevance” in that time. “Now it has to tackle further tasks, and I wish my successor only the best in handling them,” he added.

The statement didn’t specify when Hufeld will leave or when a successor will be appointed.

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