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Unless you're either a) German or b) into #fintech, you probably hadn't heard of #Wirecard until recently - that's when the German payment processor, a nationally celebrated stock-market darling, was revealed to be a multibillion dollar fraud.

Wirecard's COO was the young, dapper Jan Marsalek, feted in all the right circles among German and multinational plutes.

He's gone underground and no one know where he is.

Also, he's a fucking creepshow.

As @samgadjones, @murphyp, and @helenwarrell
write in the @ft, many people had noted that Marsalek was obsessed with mercenary armies and arms deals, sometimes bragging that he got to go into conflict zones with armed fighters.…

A lot of people assumed he was just a bullshitter, but maybe not. Maybe he wasn't kidding when he told associates that he had a side-hustle recruiting 15,000 Libyan militiamen.

Maybe his boasts of connections to the GRU assassins who carried out the notorious Skripal murders weren't just hot air.

After all, his weird, stark, Apple-Store-esque mansion was right across the street from Munich's Russian consulate.

Oh, and he was connected to the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society, and he passed the Society's treasurer leaked classified Austrian government docs that were passed on, in turn, to the neo-Nazi FPO party.

But it seems like his real interest in the Society was to "add a humanitarian gloss" to his project of using 15,000 armed mercenaries to chase off refugees seeking to flee the country to "solve the migration crisis" in the EU.

Marsalek worked on this project with Andrey Chuprygin - whom Marsalek called "The Colonel" because that's not creepy at all - a Russian veteran of Middle Eastern military campaigns whom CIA-linked think-tankies claim is a Russian spook (make of that what you will).

Russia isn't officially involved in Libya, but it's an open secret that they back several of the militia factions in the failed state. Some of these militias were quartered in buildings owned by companies that Marsalek claimed to personally own.

All this murky spook-plute crap has a business model: "It’s not just about plausible deniability [for the Kremlin] but also about the commercialisation of the project . . . the geo-economics of it are as important [as the military influence]" -Sergey Sukhankin, think-tankie

And none of it seems to have worked: "LCC’s operations are still partially furloughed. Libya is still a divided country. Russia’s mercenaries there have suffered significant recent setbacks. And Wirecard has collapsed."

He wasn't just a sociopath and grifter - he was bad at it. He was a desperate, insecure creep who climbed finance's social ladder: "The only thing he seemed to like more than having secrets and being involved in all of these surreptitious things, was letting you know it."

He wasn't a pure bullshitter: in 2018, he showed up at a London business meeting with a dossier leaked from the super-secure Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, detailing the Russian Salisbury assassinations.

Someone gave him those docs, and while it's hard to be definitive, the Dutch government accused Russian GRU hackers of targeting OPCW and made a good case for attribution.

"That the now-vanished executive should have such documents in his possession at all, on the other hand, marks him out as more than just a fantasist."

RalfGB (modified)…


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