The logo of Wirecard AG is pictured at its headquarters in Aschheim, near Munich, Germany, July 1, 2020.
The logo of Wirecard AG is pictured at its headquarters in Aschheim, near Munich, Germany, July 1, 2020. Reuters / Andreas Gebert

European investor campaign group Better Finance said on Wednesday it has set up a foundation to help 30,000 investors recover the 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) they lost when German payments company Wirecard collapsed in 2020.

Better Finance said the foundation has been set up under Dutch law to target the global parent of EY, the accounting firm which audited Wirecard's books.

"The advantage of using a Dutch foundation opens up the possibility of reaching a settlement with EY, including EY Global, for all injured Wirecard investors in Europe," said Marc Tuengler, managing director of DSW, a German investor group which has teamed up with Better Finance to set up the foundation.

"The choice of a Dutch foundation offers options that are not available under German law," Tuengler said in a statement, adding that he envisioned a timeline of three to four years for the legal process.

EY said it continues to regard claims against EY Germany, including any claims by DSW, as unfounded.

"All first-instance court rulings by various chambers of the Munich Regional Court 1 that have already been issued in this context confirm EY's position: there are no claims against EY for damages," EY said.

The Munich Higher Regional Court similarly has referenced the high hurdles for sustaining claims against EY, it added.

Wirecard, founded in 1999, began by processing payments for gambling and pornography websites before becoming a fintech star and a member of Germany's blue chip DAX index.

It ended by filing for insolvency in June 2020, owing creditors almost $4 billion, after disclosing a 1.9 billion hole in its accounts that EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.

Klaus Nieding, of Nieding+Barth law firm, said if EY in Germany or globally is unwilling to settle amicably, then the investors will go to court, with litigation costs covered by the foundation.

($1 = 0.9173 euros)