The documentary traces the rise and fall of the German payment processor and financial services provider Wirecard, which found itself in the midst of an international financial scandal.
Last Updated: 07.42 AM, Sep 18, 2022
Wirecard had established itself as one of the leading payment processors and financial services providers in Germany as well as the world. Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard traces the rise and fall of the fintech firm, and the efforts put in by Financial Times’ journalists to bring the company’s malpractices to light.
German fintech firm Wirecard’s fall from glory, in what is probably one of the biggest financial scandals in Germany’s recent history, is encapsulated in Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard. The documentary gives a comprehensive account of how the firm went from being one of the top brass in the German finance world, making strong forays internationally as well, to being declared insolvent and in the centre of financial scandal.
Although the documentary starts off in quite a haphazard way, as if unsure of where to begin the story. Viewers are treated to a quick rundown of the quagmire Wirecard found itself in, with a fugitive COO on the run, allegations of accounts manipulations, and over a billion dollars attributed to it having ‘gone missing’. The distinguished position Wirecard enjoyed in Germany had even made it a favourite among powerful political leaders, such as Angela Merkel, as well. But when Financial Times journalist Dan McCrum started to investigate the fintech giant’s workings, the first threads of Wirecard’s prominent position in the financial sector started to unravel.
McCrum, who began his investigation based off of a random account, uncovered a trail of evidence which led him to believe that the German firm was a front for money laundering. Despite threats, and the huge influence Wirecard wielded in its domain, McCrum, along with other journalists in the Financial Times persisted in their investigation into the fintech giant. Wirecard’s dominance in its field was so prominent that despite multiple attempts by the investigative journalists, the firm seemed to bounce back from most of the hits it took. However, more digging into the fintech firm’s curious transactions led to shocking revelations of the firm’s dealings, that extended beyond the financial sector.
Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard certainly does a great job at spinning the documentary along the lines of a financial thriller. Even if one is not familiar with the nuances of the fintech sector, the documentary manages to communicate the significance of Wirecard’s rise and fall, colouring the players of the story in a way similar to popular tropes in thrillers. We have the underdogs in the form of the Financial Times journalists, who strive to bring the company to justice in what seems to be a losing battle initially; an enigmatic group of short sellers whose eagerness to expose Wirecard seems to stem from something more than moral responsibility; and the charismatic top brass of Wirecard in the form of former CEO Markus Braun and COO Jan Marsalek.
Although the makers did seem to have tried to simplify the subject matter as much as possible, given the nature of the documentary and its short runtime, it was a difficult task. There are several instances where a viewer with little to no background knowledge of the workings of fintech enterprises might find it difficult to follow along with the routes the investigation takes. But to give credit where credit is due, the writing did try to give as comprehensive and concise a picture of the scandal as possible.
Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard takes on the hues of a financial thriller as it narrates the story of Wirecard’s downfall. The documentary does a great job at painting a comprehensive, yet concise picture of one of the biggest financial scandals in German fintech history.