Frankfurt (German: Frankfurt am Main) is the largest city in the German state of Hesse, and is considered the business and financial centre of Germany. It is the fifth largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne. The city is known for its modern skyline, and for hosting the headquarters of the European Central Bank, the Deutsche Börse stock exchange and numerous German financial services companies. Furthermore, it hosts some of the world’s most important trade shows, such as the Frankfurt Auto Show and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Located on the river Main at a crossroad of the German Autobahn system and connected to several high-speed rail lines, with Germany’s busiest airport on its outskirts, Frankfurt is one of the most important transportation hubs of Europe.
Sitting at the geographical center of the European Union, Frankfurt is a prominent transportation and finance hub with global influence based in Germany. Visitors can look no further than the city’s futuristic skyline to view the impressive list of companies and organizations that call Frankfurt home. Nicknamed ‘Mainhattan’, the European Central Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, German Federal Bank and Deutsche Bank all reside in the city’s impressive financial district.
Frankfurt is a city of contrasts. Wealthy bankers, students and hippie drop-outs coexist in a city that has some of the highest, most avant-garde skyscrapers of Europe next to well maintained old buildings. The downtown area, especially Römer square and the museums at the River Main, draw millions of tourists every year. On the other hand, many off-the-beaten-track neighbourhoods, such as Bockenheim, Bornheim, Nordend and Sachsenhausen, with their intact beautiful 19th-century streets and parks are often overlooked by visitors.
It’s the heart of the Rhine-Main region, spanning from Mainz and Wiesbaden in the west to Hanau in the east and Gießen in the north to Darmstadt in the south and has some 5,500,000 inhabitants in the whole surrounding metropolitan area.
Frankfurt is the place where Germany’s major autobahns and railways intersect. About 650,000 people commute to the city each day, not counting some 700,000 people who live here. With a huge airport — the third-largest in Europe — it is the gateway to Germany and for many people also the first point of arrival in Europe. Further, it is a prime hub for interconnections within Europe and for intercontinental flights.
In the years following 1968, especially in the late 1970s and up to the early 1980s, Frankfurt was a centre of the left wing Sponti-Szene, which frequently clashed with police and local authorities over politics and urban design issues (specifically whether or not old buildings should be torn down). Several members of these radical groups went on to have quite respectable careers in politics, among them Daniel Cohn-Bendit (long time leading MEP for the Greens) and Joschka Fischer (Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor 1998-2020), though their erstwhile radical and violent antics did hurt them in their later political careers.
Frankfurt has one of the highest percentage of immigrants in Germany: about 25% of Frankfurt’s people have no German passport and another 10% are naturalized German citizens. With about 35% immigrants, Frankfurt is one of the most diverse of German cities.
Frankfurt is home to many museums, theatres and a world-class opera.
The map of Frankfurt’s subdivisions
Frankfurt is divided into 16 Ortsbezirke, which are further subdivided into 46 Stadtteile. As Frankfurt is an expansive city with a large area given its population, most of those are of little interest to a tourist, with most attractions concentrated in the Ortsbezirk Innenstadt I (there are four Ortsbezirke starting with Innenstadt (“inner city”), distinguished by Roman numerals). Some Stadtteile of particular note are:
- Altstadt (Römer areal) – the heart of Frankfurt’s old town, largely rebuilt after the Second World War
- Innenstadt – named confusingly (sharing its name with the larger Ortsbezirke) is the part embracing the Altstadt up until the old city fortifications, still visible as a green belt on the city map. The home to the most of Frankfurt’s skyscrapers
- Bahnhofsviertel – the densely-built part of the city immediately facing the Hauptbahnhof, hosting the most hotels in town and its red light district
- Gutleutviertel – the area south of the tracks leading up to the Hauptbahnhof, with a modern residential quarter on the Main
- Gallus – the area north of the Hauptbahnhof tracks known most for the past-2010 Europaviertel development (a new city quarter with apartment blocks and offices built around the wide Europaallee next to the fairgrounds)
- Westend – the most expensive part of Frankfurt by land values, mostly covered with low-rise residential buildings and villas, but also several skyscrapers on its edges
- Bornheim – Popular area with small shops, cafés and restaurants, as well as historic taverns and half-timbered houses.
- Sachsenhausen – the historic southern bank of the river Main, which preserved its typical 19th-century character, very different from the modern northern bank punctured by skyscrapers. Includes the Museumsufer museum collection directly at the riverbank. See listing below for further details.
- Höchst – Formerly a separate small town, now a suburb. The small Altstadt, around the Schloss, is one of the closest places to central Frankfurt that you can see large numbers of traditional timber-framed buildings that didn’t get destroyed in the war. The square by the Schloss has some very nice traditional Gaststätte to eat or drink in.
When to visit
The best times for Frankfurt are late spring to early autumn. The summers tend to be sunny and warm around 25°C (77°F). Be prepared, however, for very hot summer days around 35°C (95°F) as well as for light rain. The winters can be cold and rainy (usually not lower than -10°C/14°F). It rarely snows in Frankfurt itself.
If you intend to stay overnight, you may wish to avoid times when trade fairs are held, as this will make finding affordable accommodation a challenging task. The biggest are the Frankfurt Motor Show (Automobil-Ausstellung) every two years in mid-September (next in 2017) and the Book Fair (Buchmesse) yearly in mid-October; see Fairs for details.
There are two offices for tourism information:
- Touristinfo Hauptbahnhof (near the main exit, next to the DB service area, look for the signs) , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Friday 08:00-21:00, Sa Su Holidays 09:00-18:00; New Year + New Year’s Eve 08:00-13:00; closed 25-26 Dec.
- Touristinfo Römer, Römerberg 27 , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Monday to Friday 09:30–17:30, Sa Su holidays 10:00-16:00 New Year + New Year’s Eve 10:00-13:00; closed 25-26 Dec.
Frankfurt is the heart of central Germany and as such, it is one of the most important transportation hubs. It has excellent connections by rail, road and air. Reaching and leaving Frankfurt is easy.
Frankfurt Airport is among the busiest in Europe — fourth in passenger traffic after Heathrow Airport, Schiphol Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Frankfurt is the banking centre of Germany and hosts numerous international trade fairs. Therefore all major airlines and all airline alliances fly frequently to Frankfurt and connect it to every inhabited continent and all major cities in the world. The German flag carrier [Lufthansa] is the main airline in Frankfurt and offers most connections. [Lufthansa] also has several domestic feeder flights to and from Frankfurt that also serve business travelers.
The airport is connected to downtown Frankfurt by taxi, bus (line 61 to (Frankfurt South Station), and most easily by S-Bahn (fast commuter trains).
To get to the city by S-Bahn, take lines or in the direction of Offenbach Ost or Hanau at the regional train station, Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof, on the lowest level of Terminal 1 (entrances in section A and B). If your plane lands or departs from Terminal 2, count in another 15 minutes as you need to move between the terminals with either the shuttle bus or the monorail Skytrain (both are free of charge, just follow the signs). If you want to go downtown, get off at , or , which are in the heart of the city. If you want to change to long-distance trains get off at (Frankfurt Central Station). The ride from the airport to the central station takes about 20 minutes. You have to purchase a ticket at the vending machines (only cash) in the train station before boarding the train. The adult ticket costs €4.80 (€2.80 for children).
If you want to go to the airport by S-Bahn, take the or in the direction of Wiesbaden. Don’t take the , since it does not stop at the airport.
ICE 3 at Flughafen Fernbahnhof (Airport long-distance train station)
Regional trains RB and RE to Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Hanau stop at the same place as the S-Bahn to Frankfurt.
Connections outside the Frankfurt region have a separate long-distance train station, 3 Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Fernbahnhof. Here, you can board high-speed long-distance trains (Inter-City and ICE) to Cologne, Munich and other national and international destinations. Local train tickets are not valid on ICE or IC.
The smaller airport called Frankfurt/Hahn , mostly used by no-frills airlines, advertises proximity to Frankfurt. However, Hahn is far away from Frankfurt and it takes about 90 minutes to drive there from downtown to cover the 125 km (78 mi) distance. For that airport, if you have to use it at all, allow more time in your travel plans and budget. A bus from Frankfurt/Hahn to Frankfurt Main airport and on to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Frankfurt Central Station) costs about €14 and leaves roughly every hour. Tickets are available from the kiosk outside in front of the main entrance.
Frankfurt/Hahn is not far (9 km) from Traben-Trarbach, which lies by the Moselle Valley river and has a train station. The streets between the airport and Traben-Trarbach are not lit at night and have no sidewalk.
Travel by train to Frankfurt
Hauptbahnhof with ICE 3M Niederlande
Frankfurt has three major train stations: Hauptbahnhof (main station), Südbahnhof (south station) and the above-mentioned one at the airport (Flughafen Fernbahnhof). However, several inter-city trains that stop at the airport do not stop at Hauptbahnhof. Long-distance trains leaving from Hauptbahnhof do not stop at Südbahnhof, while a few long-distance trains pass by Hauptbahnhof and only stop at Südbahnhof. Check the timetable to make sure you are going to the right station!
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof is one of the biggest and busiest train stations in Europe, so it’s definitely worth a visit. Frankfurt has connections to most German cities – and neighbouring countries especially to the south and west – via InterCity and high-speed InterCity Express trains. There is no problem to get a connection to any train destination from Frankfurt.
Frankfurt train stations are very large, confusing, labyrinth-like places for newcomers. Allow extra time to locate the boarding area for your train. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for help the first time. There is a large departures signboard above the main exit/entrance with destination and platform information, and you can also get information from the railway travel office in the station.
From the main ticket office at Frankfurt you can buy 5- and 10-day rail travel cards which allow you to travel around Germany using all train services, including the Intercity ones. These are a significant saving on individual train fares. The 5-day ticket costs €189 and the 10-day ticket €289. You cannot buy these tickets from regional train stations.
In addition to regular Deutsche Bahn trains and regional trains on which DB tickets are valid, Frankfurt is also served by Locomore on their Berlin-Stuttgart service. Tickets can be bought through Flixbus, but DB tickets are not valid and there is no BahnCard discount. That said, Locomore tickets are usually considerably cheaper than comparable DB tickets.
Frankfurt is connected to several autobahns and can be easily reached by car. Try to avoid rush-hour and especially snowy days, as car traffic can easily break down. Parking is definitely a problem in most areas. Especially during big conventions—such the Internationale Automobilausstellung (International Automobile Exhibition) in September, or the Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair) in mid-October—you should consider using the well designed park-and-ride system If you intend to stay mostly in Frankfurt and only make day-trips to the bigger cities in the surrounding area, consider leaving the car altogether and arriving by train, as Frankfurt has a superb public transport system (see below).
Frankfurt is serviced by various trans-European buslines like Eurolines. If you are on a tight budget or are scared of air travel, this can be a good way to reach Frankfurt. However, flights booked in advance or special offers for the train may still be cheaper. The bus of course is always the slowest option.
Because it is in the centre of Germany, Frankfurt is also a hub for domestic buses. Major lines to all big and several small cities intersect in Frankfurt, with several daily departures. Buy tickets in advance to get better rates.
All buses pick up and drop off passengers at kerbside on Bus pickup (Stuttgarter Str.), at the south side of the Hauptbahnhof, exit halfway down platform 1. A proper bus terminal is under construction at this site.
History of Frankfurt
In close proximity to one of Europe’s most vital rivers, Frankfurt’s origins date back to the 1st century when it was a Roman outpost. A key city in the Holy Roman Empire, the settlement’s ideal location along the banks of the Main River made it a vital trading post. This led to the founding of the Frankfurter Messe (Frankfurt Trade Fair), which was first mentioned in the 1100s. 900 years later, trade fairs are still a vital part of the local economy.
After developing throughout the Middle Ages and subsequent Renaissance period, the city found itself under the rule of 4 different monarchs and governments over the next several hundred years. Following a tumultuous first half of the 20th century, Frankfurt rose as an economic power in West Germany and became known for its transportation infrastructure, making it an attractive option for companies both nationally and abroad.
The city’s economic importance was only strengthened following the reunification of Germany and the introduction of the Euro over a decade later. Known as the City of the Euro, Frankfurt has propelled itself into a position as a leading global city and now boasts the largest financial center in continental Europe. Along with its financial prowess, the city is also known for its trade fairs. A tradition in the region going back nearly 1000 years, the Frankfurter Messe (Frankfurt Convention Center) is the third largest in the world and hosts numerous notable fairs throughout the year, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Geography and Weather in Frankfurt
Frankfurt sits at the center of a major metropolitan region of Germany that includes a population of nearly 6 million people. The more rural areas on the outskirts of town are still characterized by dense forests. The city’s dominating geographical feature is the Main River, which connects downstream to the Rhine River near the city of Mainz. Bordering the northwestern suburbs of the city are the Taunus Mountains, which consist of a series of relatively low mountains popular with hikers and bikers.
Frankfurt enjoys a relatively warm climate from May to September, with temperatures dipping significantly in winter. However, due to its relatively low elevation, the city does not receive a lot of snow during the colder months.
Getting Around in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is one of the world’s largest transportation centers and boasts an incredibly modern transport network. Most visitors arrive to the city through its international airport (Frankfurt Airport) or main train station (Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof). From here, there are a number of transportation options when it comes to traversing the region.
The Frankfurt metropolitan area contains a modern network of freeways, making car rental a viable option for visitors. Car rental agencies can be found at the airport, major train stations and additional locations around the city. In general, agencies accept American driver’s licenses, allowing Americans to easily rent a vehicle. German driving rules are generally quite similar to those in America and most tourists do not find it difficult to drive in the region.
Public transportation in the form of trains, subways and trams cover a vast majority of the Frankfurt metropolitan region. This includes not only Frankfurt, but other major cities including Wiesbaden, Mainz, Offenbach and Darmstadt.
Main Attractions, Sights and Things to do
Housing a prestigious art collection that spans seven centuries, the Städel stands as one of Frankfurt’s cultural highlights and is a must-visit for tourists in the city. Starting from the Middle Ages, the collection features a who’s who of European masters including Botticelli, Raphael and Monet. Situated on the banks of the Main River, the Städel can be reached by following the city’s U-Bahn to Schweizer Platz Station.
Römerberg Plaza and History Museum
Römerberg Plaza sits at the center of Frankfurt’s Old Town. Rebuilt with painstaking detail following World War II, the pedestrian zone features buildings as they stood in the 1500s. Characterized by crow-stepped gables popular throughout the region at the time, this was the site of Frankfurt’s city hall. Today, the plaza stands as a reminder of Frankfurt’s heritage as one of the most scenic parts of town.
Located within Römerberg Plaza is the city’s Historisches Museum (History Museum). Here, visitors can see original artwork and drawings of Römerberg and the surrounding city as it stood in the Middle Ages. The museum also focuses on the overall history of the region, starting from prehistoric times and ending in the modern day.
Main Tower Observation Deck
Visitors to Frankfurt can get a bird’s eye view of ‘Mainhattan’ by heading to the city’s formidable Main Tower. At over 200 meters high, it is the fourth tallest building in the world. The 56th floor observation deck is a must for first time Frankfurt visitors. On a clear day, all of Frankfurt can be seen along with mountains in the distance. Visit the tower around dusk for the best photo opportunities.
Though not strictly catering to tourists, Frankfurt’s financial district, like Wall Street and the City of London, should not be missed. Exit Taunusanlage Station and look up to view Deutsche Bank’s twin skyscrapers towering above. Take a short walk through the nearby park to view the European Central Bank at Eurotower.
Originally constructed in 1880, Frankfurt’s opera house is one of the city’s most beautiful and regal buildings. Restored following WWII, the venue plays host to over 50 events each year. Internationally renowned musicals, theater shows, classical performers and jazz acts can all be seen at the opera house. Even if there isn’t a show, the in-house restaurant is worth a visit.
Rhineland Day Trips
Frankfurt’s close proximity to the scenic Rhine River Valley makes it a popular starting point for day trips to the region. In the warmer months, tour boats leave central Frankfurt on a regular basis and head towards the Rhine River. Day trips commonly include excellent sightseeing opportunities, along with village and castle excursions.
Shopping in Frankfurt
The Zeil is Frankfurt’s most popular shopping street. The pedestrian thoroughfare is home to a laundry list of major fashion, home goods and cosmetics brands. The street is anchored by the Zeilgalerie, which is an extensive indoor shopping facility specializing in fashion, cafes and restaurants. The roof of the Zeilgalerie is a viewing deck which boasts excellent views of the surrounding skyline. The recently opened MyZeil shopping mall is the latest addition to the street. Featuring 8 floors and unique architecture, MyZeil is quickly earning a reputation as an international shopping destination. In addition to all this, the Zeil hosts farmers markets twice a week where visitors can sample local produce and gourmet foods.
Located in central Frankfurt, the street is serviced by public transport stations Hauptwache and Konstablerwache on either end.
Situated in Frankfurt’s Old Town, Neue Kräme is a pedestrian street known for its high concentration of specialty shops, bakeries and cafes. The street has been a shopping district since the middle ages and is a popular place for both tourists and locals to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Neue Kräme is situated within walking distance from the Dom/Römer U-Bahn station.
Goethestraße is Frankfurt’s best known luxury shopping street. The pretty, tree-lined road is packed with luxury brands like Giorgio Armani, Tiffany & Co., Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Versace and more. Even if high-end shopping isn’t on the itinerary, Goethestraße is worth a visit for the people watching alone. The street is located within walking distance from the Hauptwache and Alter Oper U-Bahn Stations.
No great city would be complete without a farmer’s market and Frankfurt is no exception. Though there are numerous regular markets around town, Kleinmarkthalle represents the best of what the city has to offer. Featuring numerous food and flower stalls, the market has been a central food exchange for over 100 years. A foodies dream, there are endless rows of vendors selling locally sourced gourmet meats, cheeses, wines, spices, baked goods and more. Conveniently, the market is centrally located between Hauptwache, Konstablerwache and Dom/Römer Stations.
Eating Out in Frankfurt
Frankfurt’s international prominence has attracted new residents from all across Europe and Asia. As it stands today, the city has a foreign population of around 25%. As a result, the city includes an eclectic mix of restaurants representing virtually every major world cuisine. To find Frankfurt’s largest concentration of cafes and restaurants, head to Hasengasse near the aforementioned Kleinmarkthalle with a lot of Thai, Russian and Indonesian restaurants.
Centrally located in the city’s Sachsenhausen neighborhood, Adolf Wagner is Frankfurt’s best bet when it comes to traditional German cuisine on a budget. Also well known for serving cider, the restaurant has been family owned and operated since 1931, and features a cozy warm interior with long tables and bench seating. Popular dishes at Adolf include local specialties such as rippchen (smoked pork chops) and Frankfurt’s own ‘green sauce’ served with hard boiled eggs or braised beef with home fries.
Situated within a beautifully restored 14th century building along a quiet part of the Main River, Gerbermühle is a mid-range restaurant attached to a hotel. Featuring a healthy mix of Germanic favorites like sauerbraten and wienerschnitzel, the restaurant also serves of number of continental and French-influenced choices to please any palette.
One of Frankfurt’s trendiest restaurants, the Frankfurter Botschaft offers an eclectic mix of high-end cuisine amidst a beautiful dining space with enviable views of the harbor and trendy new condos. Menus range from three to five courses and start at 44 Euros. Dishes include international favorites such as risotto and grilled sea bass, but also include traditional German options like sauerkraut soup.
Nightlife in Frankfurt
Frankfurt’s nightlife is varied and ranges from typical European discotheques, to trendy jazz clubs and even a thriving red light district. As a general rule, raunchier establishments can be found near the city’s major train stations (most notably Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof) as they cater to business travelers. Trendier clubs and lounges can be found along the Main River.
Jazzkeller (Jazz Cellar)
The Jazzkeller has been a Frankfurt mainstay since the 1950s and has played hosts to esteemed musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong throughout the years. Over the decades, the tiny basement club has retained its 50s atmosphere where jazz music can be heard five nights a week. The club’s bar serves cocktails, wine and quality German Beers.
King Kamehameha Club
Named after Hawaii’s former king, the King Kamehameha doesn’t exactly exude the spirit of the islands, but does work well as a trendy lounge and nightclub. State of the art lighting and sound attract some of the world’s best known DJs to this up and coming location. In the summer, Kamehameha is sometimes transformed into a full blown beach club complete with imported sand and volleyball courts.
Off the wall and completely unique, Die Schmiere claims to be the ‘worst theater in the world’. Experimental shows, satire and even plays with no dialogue are all a part of the fun at this quirky theater.
Other Points of Interest
Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair)
Frankfurt holds the largest annual book fair in the world which runs each October. A tradition dating back to at least the 1300s, the book fair attracts visitors from every corner of the globe and features works by international authors.
All major German cities hold Christmas markets from late November through to late December. Frankfurt’s market is located along the Main River at its scenic Römerberg Plaza. At the center of the plaza is a beautifully decorated Christmas tree along with a traditional carousel. Visitors to the market can keep warm with glasses of mulled wine while searching for the perfect Christmas decorations and gifts.
Wirecard : How Jan Marsalek Friend Henry O’Sullivan became “Corinna Müller”
The Briton Henry O’Sullivan is regarded as the dazzling puller of many Wirecard deals and friend of Jan Marsalek and internal emails show how big his influence was in the company.
Henry O’Sullivan celebrated his 40th birthday in paradise. He invited lawyers, managers and high-ranking executives from Wirecard to the lonely dream island of Benguerra off the coast of the East African state of Mozambique. Board member Jan Marsalek and his girlfriend should also come.
As a souvenir, the host wanted: pens for the school children in town and champagne for the party weekend.
The luxury resort Azura Retreats, which O’Sullivan rented in November 2014, had cabins right on the beach, palm trees, and a beach. On arrival, the guests would have to wade through knee-deep water as the British businessman’s assistant warned a month before the celebration. That wasn’t a problem for Jan Marsalek. He preferred to travel by helicopter anyway, according to an email from his secretary.
The extravagant birthday plans reveal a lot about two of the central key figures in the Wirecard scandal. Jan Marsalek (40) and Henry O’Sullivan (46) are close confidants who worked together on big deals far away from the headquarters in Aschheim. Now the judiciary is asking whether millions have been diverted. Wirecard is insolvent and Marsalek is on the run.
O’Sullivan does not answer inquiries. At the beginning of 2020, he only wanted to talk to the examiners from KMPG and EY under certain conditions but then he was no longer available to them.
The beefy Brit was known for his dissolute lifestyle. In Singapore he often dined in a top restaurant on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with a view over the harbor. To save time on business trips, he preferred to travel short distances by helicopter instead of taxi and in the meantime he lived on a yacht in Monaco.
Marsalek had O’Sullivan flown in in 2014 to celebrate with him at the Munich Oktoberfest. A year later they flew through South Africa in the Learjet 45XR. And when the Briton wanted to meet the Wirecard executive board in Jakarta in 2014, he asked an Indonesian employee by email about a hotel that would tolerate the “type of spring break business trips”.
Beyond its luxury life, only fragments of O’Sullivan’s businesses are known. The Briton did not hold an official position at Wirecard. Many consider him a “phantom” in the background, a member of the mysterious clique around Marsalek.
It was stored in the Wirecard address book with an external e-mail address for freelancers – his profile photo showed Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord: another bad joke by Jan Marsalek, as insiders suspect.
As much as O’Sullivan was on business trips, he was always careful to be discreet. This is also shown by an episode from spring 2020, when the Wirecard world was already falling apart and auditors examined the opaque third-party business for which Marsalek was responsible.
O’Sullivan was very knowledgeable about third party business and a strange company purchase in India in 2015. He was therefore a sought-after discussion partner for the annual auditors from EY and the special auditors from KPMG. O’Sullivan apparently managed to convince the supervisory board of a special protective measure.
A sought-after discussion partner for EY and KPMG
O’Sullivan demanded at the end of April or beginning of March 2016 that his name should not be recorded in the “final report” or in any other correspondence with Wirecard. “These papers have a habit of appearing in public,” he wrote to an assistant at Marsalek. He assumes that “everything that is written will ultimately be read by others” and he therefore insists on being given a pseudonym.
This is how Mr. O’Sullivan became Mrs. Müller. On March 4, a legal advisor to the Supervisory Board wrote to Wirecard management: “As discussed yesterday, a code name should be used for all further e-mails and other references. Proposal: ‘Ms. Corinna Müller’. ”On the same day, EY agreed not to use the name in communication with Wirecard international.
According to supervisory board circles, however, it was clear: There should be no special treatment in the confidential internal audit report, and O’Sullivan’s real name would have been mentioned here.
But it did not get to that. According to the “Wall Street Journal”, the special auditor KPMG was cross: O’Sullivan had also made the condition of their auditors anonymous. When they refused, he refused to speak.
He could tell so much in the process. In the ten years before the bankruptcy alone, Wirecard acquired companies for 1.2 billion euros, according to insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé. In his report, Jaffé writes that the deals were one reason for the “enormous consumption of liquidity in recent years”. The public prosecutor is investigating former executives on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.
O’Sullivan was involved in numerous Wirecard deals. His name is linked to one of the largest and most dubious deals the payment service provider has done in recent years: the takeover of the Indian Hermes group in 2015. Wirecard bought the companies from the Mauritius-registered fund Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A (EMIF 1A) for 326 million euros. The amazing thing: the fund had only acquired the same company and assets a few months earlier for around 35 million euros and it is still not clear who was behind that deal
Marsalek stated in an interview with Handelsblatt at the beginning of 2020 that he had not checked the background. But insiders report that O’Sullivan and Marsalek were the ones who planned the deal and who ultimately benefited from it. In any case, the original Hermes sellers now feel cheated. They filed a lawsuit that revealed that it was O’Sullivan who negotiated the sale to the EMIF 1A fund for € 35 million.
The central figure in Senjo was also O’Sullivan, even if he did not hold an official position. A PR consultant for the British company stated in 2019 that her client worked for Senjo. That’s only half the story. In practice, O’Sullivan is said to have been the one in charge of Senjo. In Singapore, the authorities are now investigating for falsification of accounts in the vicinity of the group of companies.
How hard Marsalek worked internally at Wirecard for his party friend O’Sullivan is shown by a short-term lending business from 2016, which several Wirecard board members dealt with. Ascheimer Wirecard Bank AG granted Cottisford Holdings Ltd, a generous credit line of ten million euros from O’Sullivan, for which Wirecard AG guaranteed as internal emails and documents prove this.
“Today the supervisory board formally approved the loan retrospectively, but was not ‘amused’ about it,” wrote the then board member Rainer Wexeler of Wirecard Bank AG on March 2, 2016 to Marsalek. He complained that the panel had been poorly informed. Wexeler asked: “Can you please give me the private address of O’Sullivan and some key business data about his business, his connection to Wirecard AG, etc.?”
Wirecard Scandal claims another Victim – Heike Pauls from Commerzbank
It’s not even eight months since Germany’s number one payment service provider imploded: Wirecard had to admit in June 2020 that billions of euros never existed on the balance sheet. As a result, board members had to go to jail or disappeared without a trace. Since then, auditors have been distrusted, and the head of the BaFin supervisory authority has to look for a new job. The youngest victim is Heike Pauls of the German Commerzbank.
Up until a few weeks before the Wirecard scandal burst, several analysts in various banks believed in Wirecard. They unshakably believed that the annual financial statements for 2019, which had been postponed several times, would end well, some experts continued to insist on Wirecard price targets of 180 to 240 euros.
One of the bravest supporters of the scandal group was Heike Pauls from Commerzbank. The analyst was always loyal to Wirecard: She dismissed critical reports about the payment processor as false reports and even a few weeks before the collapse she issued a buy recommendation with a price target of 230 euros for the Wirecard share.
As the Spiegel reported, Pauls had in the meantime also provided the management of the payment processor with sensitive information that it had collected specifically on the capital market. In January Commerzbank had already restructured the research department and relieved the analyst of her duties, now the announcement was made:
“Commerzbank has terminated the employment relationship.”
The Wirecard scandal is far from being dealt with. Further personnel consequences in various economic areas could follow. Extensive claims for damages by investors against the insolvent payment service provider are also examined and the the Wirecard share remains taboo for any investors.
Wirecard Committee – Doubts about Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s Credibility
Didn’t Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tell the whole truth when he appeared as a witness on the Wirecard investigative committee? Internal documents that are available to the ARD studio fuel the suspicion. The SPD accuses him of having lied to the committee and in the opposition too, doubts about its credibility are growing.
In December Guttenberg was asked about his role in the Wirecard scandal in the Bundestag. It was also about an article that the former CSU minister published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” at the end of March 2020. The topic: The role of short sales in the Corona crisis. At the time, Wirecard was targeted by shortsellers, i.e. stock exchange traders who bet on falling prices for a company and Guttenberg had argued against such short sales in the article.
Mail to ex-Wirecard boss Markus Braun
Guttenberg apparently did not want to draw a direct connection to his work for Wirecard, but there are doubts about this representation.
An email to the then Wirecard boss Markus Braun, however, indicates that Guttenberg could very well have had the now insolvent DAX group in mind when he wrote the text for the FAZ.
In this email of March 20, 2020, the Managing Director of the communications company Edelman, Rüdiger Assion, proposed a “Short Selling Action Plan” to the Wirecard boss. Among other things, this contained the suggestion that Guttenberg could write a guest commentary on the subject of short sales in the newspapers FAZ or “Die Welt”. An argumentation paper with key messages is also attached to the mail. Just six days later, exactly such a guest comment appears in the FAZ. Guttenberg’s argumentation shows clear similarities with the line proposed in the argumentation paper.
SPD speaks of a lie
The SPD chairman in the Wirecard committee, Zimmermann, therefore accuses Guttenberg of not telling the truth on the witness stand. Zimmermann told the ARD city studio: “He (Guttenberg’s note by the editor) lied to the investigative committee and tried to set the wrong track when he denied arguing for a ban on short sales in the interests of Wirecard. A real surprise is this lack of honesty not with him. ” Now it must be clarified whether Guttenberg deliberately wanted to mislead the investigative committee.
CDU defends Guttenberg
Guttenberg is defended by the CDU. The MP Matthias Hauer said that the SPD should primarily devote itself to the question of why the BaFin, supervised by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, imposed the short sale ban on Wirecard. “This should certainly contribute more to the explanation of Wirecard than an article in the name of an ex-politician on the subject in the FAZ.”
But doubts about Guttenberg’s credibility are also growing among the opposition. The chairman of the Greens, Danyal Bayaz, said that Guttenberg’s remarks on his opinion contribution had already been implausible in the committee of inquiry. “Apparently it was part of the advisory service to specifically win over public opinion for a renewed ban on short selling.” That does not cast a good light on Guttenberg’s honesty.
The Linke chairman in the committee, Fabio de Masi, can imagine summoning the former Federal Minister again: “If Mr. Guttenberg was Baron Münchhausen and had said the untruth in front of the committee of inquiry, this would also be criminally relevant, (…) the question is then whether his other statements that he had met the Chancellor privately are also untrue. “
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