EY Germany has shuffled its leadership as it seeks to clean its reputation following the Wirecard debacle. Hubert Barth, who has led the practice for the last five years, has been demoted.
Henrik Ahlers and Jean-Yves Jégourel will jointly lead the firm, EY announced. Ahlers has been managing tax partner for Germany, Switzerland, and Austria since 2018, while Jégourel currently is EY Global assurance vice chair, professional practice.
The Big Four firm was forced to overhaul its top team in Germany after Wirecard collapsed into insolvency last year admitting it had fraudulently booked $2bn in assets.
“EY is aware of the loss of trust caused by the Wirecard case,” the firm said in a statement. “It is EY’s top priority to help clarify the Wirecard case and restore trust that has been lost.”
EY has also established a new “Trust in Quality” programme which it hopes will “strengthen trust in the audit work”.
In 2016, an EY whistleblower who flagged multiple red flags was ignored, while journalists who reported on the rumblings were attacked by regulators. The scandal has engulfed Berlin, and most recently caused the head of Germany's accounting watchdog to step down.
Accounting watchdog steps down
The agency, formally known as the Financial Reporting Enforcement Panel (FREP), said in a statement on Wednesday that President Edgar Ernst is to leave his post on 30 December.
Ernst has been slammed for potential conflicts of interest, as he held seats on supervisory boards of major corporations, including real-estate company Vonovia, retailer Metro and tour operator TUI.
Last month, the finance ministry announced that the head of Germany’s financial regulator BaFin, Felix Hufeld, would leave his post. His exit follows that of Ralf Bose, the head of Germany’s auditor’s supervisor Apas, who was sacked for disclosing his trade of Wirecard shares whilst his organisation was investigating EY.
The German government has promised to strengthen the country’s accounting supervision and financial oversight.