Case Study: Wirecard AG
This is a case study, which means you are expected to research thoroughly and cite your sources in your paper. In writing your essay of between 3000 and 5000 words, you should include:
– Background data on the company, its sector and its products
– Details on the scandal
As the main topic of your case study, you should discuss:
– which unethical behaviour, in your opinion, led to the scandal
– which conditions under the theories triggered or promoted the ongoing unethical conduct of Wirecard AG. Theories to be used are Corporate Governance, Corporate Culture as well as Whistleblower theories.
– how could the scandal be avoided, if at all? If you had been the ethics’ officer of Wirecard, which measures would you have recommended to the board of directors?



Sample Answer

Sample Answer


Case Study: Wirecard AG – Unraveling the Scandal


Wirecard AG, once hailed as a rising star in the fintech industry, found itself embroiled in one of the most significant corporate scandals in recent history. This case study delves into the background of the company, details the scandal that unfolded, examines the unethical behavior that led to it, explores the conditions under theories that triggered it, and proposes measures that could have potentially avoided the scandal.

Background of Wirecard AG

Wirecard AG was a German payment processing company founded in 1999. The company operated in the fintech sector, offering digital payment solutions and financial services to businesses and consumers globally. With a market capitalization that soared to billions of euros, Wirecard was seen as a pioneer in digital payments and a symbol of Germany’s tech success.

The Scandal Unveiled

The scandal surrounding Wirecard AG came to light in 2019 when reports surfaced alleging accounting irregularities and financial improprieties within the company. An external audit revealed a massive black hole in Wirecard’s balance sheet, with billions of euros missing. Investigations uncovered a sophisticated scheme where profits were inflated, and funds were funneled through offshore entities to create a facade of financial health.

Unethical Behavior Leading to the Scandal

The unethical behavior that led to the Wirecard scandal was primarily rooted in a culture of greed, deception, and a lack of corporate governance. Senior executives at Wirecard engaged in fraudulent activities to artificially inflate the company’s financial position, deceiving investors and regulators. The pursuit of rapid growth and expansion at all costs led to a disregard for ethical practices and accountability.

Conditions Under Theories Triggering Unethical Conduct

Corporate Governance Theory

Under the lens of corporate governance theory, Wirecard’s scandal can be attributed to weak oversight mechanisms and a lack of independent board scrutiny. The concentration of power in the hands of a few key executives allowed for unchecked misconduct and manipulation of financial data.

Corporate Culture Theory

The toxic corporate culture at Wirecard, characterized by a pressure-cooker environment that prioritized short-term profits over ethical conduct, contributed significantly to the scandal. The emphasis on meeting unrealistic financial targets created a culture of fear and silence, where employees felt compelled to turn a blind eye to fraudulent practices.

Whistleblower Theory

The absence of a robust whistleblower protection mechanism at Wirecard stifled internal dissent and exposed employees to retaliation for speaking out against malpractices. The lack of channels for reporting unethical behavior enabled the perpetuation of fraud within the organization.

Avoiding the Scandal – Recommendations as Ethics Officer

If I had been the ethics officer at Wirecard, I would have recommended the following measures to the board of directors to prevent such a scandal:

1. Implementing a robust whistleblower protection program that guarantees anonymity and safeguards employees who report misconduct.
2. Strengthening internal controls and audit processes to detect irregularities and prevent financial fraud.
3. Enhancing transparency in financial reporting and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards to rebuild trust with investors and stakeholders.
4. Conducting regular ethics training programs for employees at all levels to instill a culture of integrity and ethical behavior within the organization.


The Wirecard scandal serves as a cautionary tale of the consequences of unchecked greed, poor governance, and ethical lapses within an organization. By understanding the unethical behavior that led to the scandal and the conditions under theories that facilitated it, companies can take proactive measures to prevent such crises in the future. Upholding ethical standards, fostering transparency, and promoting a culture of integrity are essential pillars for sustainable business success and reputation preservation.

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