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Where is Wirecard’s Jan Marsalek?

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After yesterday's chat with Dan McCrum of The Financial Times who broke the Wirecard story, wrote the book about it, helped create the documentary on Netflix and is an all round good guy, I wondered whatever happened to the key instigator, organiser and mastermind behind the fraud, Jan Marsalek.

Dan: It did feel quite dangerous because we’d started to realize that at least one of the guys involved had some very dangerous friends.

Chris: This is Jan Marsalek?

Dan: Yes, this is Jan Marsalek, the chief operating officer. After Wirecard collapsed, he was allowed to flee the country and went to Belarus. He has, for a long time, been in Moscow according to various fairly good reports and the latest we’ve heard is that he’s popped up in Dubai.

Strangely enough and coincidentally, I found a German newspaper talking about Marsalek just at the same time as interviewing Dan. They think he lives in Moscow, impersonating a priest.

The ZDF paper claims that he had been allegedly spying for Moscow's secret services for years, is very connected with key players in Russia and was an instrument for them in building the global Wirecard scandal. But when the House of Wirecard's came tumbling down, where did he go?

Research by ZDF frontal , " Spiegel ", the Austrian " Standard " and the Russian investigative platform " The Insider " now reveal that, in September 2020, Marsalek assumed the cover identity of a Russian Orthodox priest named Konstantin Bajazow. People close to the Russian secret services helped him get his new passport. And the connections go back much further.

Equally, their investigations have found that Marsalek did not actually become a priest, but that his new identity isn't completely invented either. In fact, a real priest named Konstantin Bayazov lives in the Russian city of Lipetsk, southeast of Moscow. He looks similar to Marsalek, and their birth dates are only a year apart.

There’s lots more about the intrigue and activities of Marsalek over here (in German), but what seems incredible is how such an operation could have been created, sustained and operated without suspicion for so many years (until McCrum uncovered the whole thing). More than this, it makes you wonder about the whole world of subterfuge and secret services. Bearing in mind the many rumours of novochik poisoning  - the most recent being rumoured to be Alexi Navalny - I'm surprised Dan didn't walk around very day with a personal food and coffee taster ... or maybe he did!

Mind you, talking about subterfuge and cover-ups, I've just finished watching the series The Dropout, about Elizabeth Holmes in America who created a multibillion dollar company, Theranos, that had investors from Larry Ellison to George Shultz. She seemed to have a lot going for her until a whistleblower helped The Wall Street Journal bring her down. It turned out that, underneath the surface, her company had zero integrity or credibility.

Nothing surprises me and thank goodness for investigative journalism.


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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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