August 5, 2020

The Wirecard scandal splashes the Spanish executive who pilots the green turn of the oil company Galp


He German tech wirecard scandal It has overshadowed the successful career of the highest ranking Spanish executive in Portugal, Susana Quintana-Plaza. This manchega, not very well-known in Spain but with an outstanding journey in positions of relevance in large foreign companies, is executive director of the Galp oil company and head of the company’s renewable business, one of the largest in the neighboring country. Her recent connection (without any executive function) with Wirecard has put her in the firing hole of a part of the Portuguese left. Galp confirms his full trust in her.

Quintana-Plaza, who is one of eight people on Galp’s executive committee, was one of six members of Wirecard’s supervisory board from 2018 until his resignation last April, days before the billionaire came to light. fraud in the German electronic payments company, which last month declared insolvent.

At a time when a corruption scandal is still raging in Portugal’s main company, the electric company EdP, in some sectors of the Portuguese left, the Spanish executive’s suitability for the relevant position he occupies in Galp has already begun to be questioned , company of which the Portuguese State has 7.5%.

The Bloco de Esquerda, one of the main parliamentary supports of the government of the Socialist Prime Minister Antònio Costa, has asked to the Portuguese stock exchange regulator, the Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários (CMVM), if it is going to “proceed to a formal evaluation” of the suitability of Quintana-Plaza for that executive position, given its recent connection with that German company, to which CMVM President Gabriela Figueiredo Dias recently called “an example” of “bad practices and improper conduct” that has highlighted the “vulnerabilities of corporate governance mechanisms.”

Aerospace engineer trained in the United States with an MBA from Harvard, Quintana-Plaza, born in Ciudad Real in 1974, has a brilliant resume in large multinationals in the aeronautical, energy, consulting and venture capital industries, with relevant positions at companies such as Boeing, E.ON, Siemens or now, the Portuguese oil company, which signed it in April 2019 to form part of its executive committee.

At Galp she is responsible for Renewables and New Businesses, a crucial position at a time when all the big oil companies are turning towards decarbonization because the energy transition forces. This acquisition is part of the acquisition, last January, of the photovoltaic business of the Spanish construction company ACS for 2,200 million euros to make Galp, the fifth largest fuel distributor in Spain by number of gas stations, “the main player in solar energy in the Iberian Peninsula “, with a portfolio of 2.9 gigawatt projects in 2023.

On Wirecard’s supervisory board, the Spanish woman spent just under two years, from June 2018 until her hasty departure in early April. It was attached, with the independent status, to the Remuneration, Human Resources and Appointments committee. The German company announced its departure (with effect from April 7) on April 29, just one day after publishing the results of an audit of the KPMG firm in which the first irregularities were recognized. Quintana-Plaza, whose term expired in 2021, cited “personal reasons to focus on her operational responsibility in the future” after nearly a year as an executive at Galp, Wirecard explained at the time.

Asked about this matter, the Portuguese oil company tells elDiario.es that “in relation to the information published on WireCard, Galp has activated its control and governance procedures and requirements and has no record of any event that could cast doubt on the suitability of its executive administrator Susana Quintana-Plaza “. The company does not specify whether the executive (who has declined to attend to this medium) has made her position available to the company.

An “immediate action”

As published by the Financial Times last week, as early as June 2019 a report by the consulting firm McKinsey warned the German electronic payments company of the need to adopt a “immediate action“to cope with the absence of controls in their biggest businesses. The influential British economic newspaper, which has been key in the fall of Wirecard (already in 2015 began to question its practices and in February 2019 warned of a”accounting scandal“due to its operations in Singapore), he assured that the McKinsey document was sent to both the Wirecard board of directors and the supervisory board of which Quintana-Plaza was then a part.

The case, in which the German Prosecutor’s Office investigates alleged crimes of accounting and market manipulation or money laundering, and which has so far resulted in the arrest of several company executives, including former CEO Markus Barun, It has compared to the scandal of the American power company Enron at the beginning of this century. He has also questioned the role of the auditors of the German company (the EY firm) and the German financial supervisor (BaFin), after revealing that the now insolvent electronic payments company inflated its balance sheet with 1.9 billion, a quarter of the total. Those funds were allegedly in two accounts at a Singapore bank in the Philippines. As the German firm recently recognized, those funds probably “did not exist”.

Fintech, which started out managing payments for gambling and adult websites and ended up processing payments for giants like Visa and Mastercard, is the first DAX company (the German Ibex) to file for bankruptcy. It reached the market capitalization of Deutsche Bank, with a value of more than 25,000 million.

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