Germany has demanded the extradition of a suspected fraudster billionaire from Russia where he is believed to be hiding under the protection of the Russian secret service.
Jan Marsalek is suspected of being the mastermind behind one of the biggest financial scandals in Germany that involves the insolvent payment processor and financial services provider Wirecard AG.
The company went insolvent in June 2020 after saying that EUR 1.9 billion (GBP 1.57 billion; USD 2 billion) had gone missing, with debts reportedly totalling EUR 3.2 billion (GBP 2.67 billion; USD 3.5 billion).
Marsalek, 42, is said to be hiding in a safe house on the outskirts of the Russian capital Moscow, some 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) from the Kremlin, according to German media.
Austrian media report that Marsalek is said to be hiding in a safe house that has massive barriers at its entrance, and checkpoints and members of Putin’s secret service on the street corners, in a wealthy residential area on the outskirts of Moscow.
The former CFO of Wirecard AG is allegedly responsible for falsifying accounts to the tune of EUR 2 billion (GBP 1.67 billion; USD 2.18 billion).
The public prosecutor’s office in Munich, in the southern German state of Bavaria, where he is to go on trial, reportedly requested, shortly before Easter, that the Kremlin extradite the suspect.
While ex-Wirecard boss Markus Braun is now answering charges in court, his former board colleague Jan Marsalek has gone into hiding, with his whereabouts unknown until now.
The German daily Bild claims that Marsalek is hiding at a luxurious villa on the outskirts of Moscow, under the protection of the FSB.
The FSB is Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor to the infamous KGB, of which current Russian President Vladimir Putin was a lieutenant colonel, working in Germany before resigning in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and entering politics in Russia.