Wirecard rejects FT report as shares drop

LONDON/BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Wirecard WDIG.DE rejected allegations of impropriety on Tuesday after the Financial Times newspaper published documents on the company's accounting practices which it said appeared to indicate an effort to inflate sales and profits.

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

Shares in the payments group sank more than 20% and its euro-denominated bonds DE205218076= expiring in 2024 fell 7.4 cents to 91.01 on the Financial Times report.

“Today’s article by the Financial Times is a compilation of a number of false and misleading allegations... which were already fully refuted before,” Wirecard said in a statement.

At 1349 GMT, the company's shares were down 14.1% after hitting their lowest since April 24, making them the biggest faller on Germany's DAX 30 .GDAXI and on track for their worst day since early February.

The newspaper published documents including internal company spreadsheets and related correspondence between senior members of Wirecard’s finance team, which, in an accompanying article, it said appeared to indicate an effort to inflate sales and profits at Wirecard’s businesses in Dubai and Ireland, as well as to potentially mislead EY, its tier-one auditor.

Wirecard said it was regrettable that the Financial Times chose to publish “such an irresponsible” article.

German markets regulator Bafin said it would include Tuesday’s share price drop in a market manipulation investigation it started in April after earlier FT reports on the company sent the stock sliding.

“We are in very close coordination with Munich prosecutors,” a Bafin spokeswoman told financial news website Boerse Online.

Tuesday’s FT report comes after the paper published a series of stories earlier this year alleging fraud and false accounting at Wirecard’s Singapore office and that a key Middle East unit was not properly audited.

The company has already denied the FT’s previous allegations, saying that although Dubai-based subsidiary Card Systems was not individually audited, its books had undergone higher-level “full-scope” scrutiny by auditor EY.

Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan, Josephine Mason, Riham Alkousaa and Thomas Seythal; Editing by Kirsten Donovan