The head of EY Germany, the longstanding auditor of disgraced payments firm Wirecard, is expected to step down from the role, according to people familiar with the matter.
Hubert Barth, who has led EY in Germany since 2016, is expected to take another position within the company, the people said, adding that his departure from the top job could be announced as early as Thursday.
The change still needs to be formally signed off at board meetings in Germany on Thursday, the people said.
Barth’s expected move comes a day after EY announced a reorganisation of its operations in western Europe that will group together businesses with combined revenues of $4.65bn and 27,000 employees.
As Wirecard’s longstanding auditor, EY has been under intense pressure since the payments firm collapsed into insolvency in one of Germany’s largest accounting frauds. EY had previously issued unqualified audits for Wirecard for about a decade.
Munich prosecutors last year launched a criminal investigation into the EY partners who were in charge of the Wirecard audits after Germany’s audit watchdog filed a criminal complaint, saying it found evidence that they might have violated their professional duties.
EY has denied any wrongdoing. In December it hit back against the audit watchdog, claiming that “in our opinion, we have not been sufficiently granted the legal right to be heard in this case so far”.
Under Barth’s leadership, EY made significant inroads into corporate Germany, winning market share from its rivals KPMG and PwC. However, several prestigious clients, including Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank’s asset manager DWS and state-owned lender KfW have walked away from EY in recent months.
EY’s global chairman and chief executive Carmine Di Sibio in September expressed “regret” that his firm did not uncover the fraud sooner. He said the Big Four accounting group would “raise the bar significantly” on its vetting work.
EY declined to comment. Barth did not respond to FT requests for comment on Thursday morning.