Have you ever been intimidated at work?
Whistleblower Pav Gill: "I brought down Wirecard"
Pav Gill (37) joined Wirecard in 2017. As the head of the legal department in Asia, it was his job to make sure that everything was done right. But just a few weeks after starting it, it was clear to him that there was a lot going on at Wirecard. He wondered, for example, why Wirecard was always reporting increasing sales and profits when all of the subsidiaries in the Asia-Pacific region were making losses. He realized that at least parts of Wirecard's Asian business only existed on paper. He received no replies from other high-ranking employees in the region.
But Gill found a confidante in the region who put evidence of his suspicions on the table. Fake invoices and account statements in which transfers to companies with which Wirecard had no business relationship were now in front of Gill. At that point he was still thinking that he was doing his job well because he had encountered fraudulent schemes. At Wirecard in Munich, people listened to that with great interest. But Gill was quickly withdrawn from processing, so from now on ex-Wirecard manager Jan Marsalek (on the run), who was responsible for the Asian business, wanted to take care of that.
Because Gill refused to accept that and kept asking questions, he was pushed out of the company. Gill's mother Evelyn decided, together with her very close son, to make the incidents public. That brought trouble to Gill, his mother and the involved journalist from the Financial Times, Dan McCrum. McCrum was investigated and Gill threatened. In the course of the documentation "Wirecard - The Billion Lie" by Sky and RBB / ARD, he now dares to step out of cover.
DER STANDARD had the opportunity to ask Pav and Evelyn Gill questions via email.
DEFAULT: With your research you uncovered the machinations of Wirecard and remained anonymous for a long time. Why did you decide to get out of anonymity now?
Pav Gill: I believe everyone should know the truth about who is behind the exposure of this criminal enterprise and what it took to achieve it. I recommend everyone to watch the documentary that has just been released on Sky. The team really did an incredible job looking behind the scenes and showing what was going on here. It was a great challenge for me to go public with my story. I brought down Wirecard, and the documentary's approach of telling the story through the eyes of those who opposed the wind convinced me.
DEFAULT: What fraudulent structures have you noticed at Wirecard? When did you realize that something was wrong?
Pav Gill: Within two to three weeks of joining Wirecard, it was already clear to me that this company was not being managed and operated in the way one would expect from a billion-dollar, listed company.
DEFAULT: There is an explosive point in the documentary. It's about a trip to Jakarta that Wirecard urged you to take after your most important colleague for the Asian business, Edo K., emphasized that his wife comes from a drug trafficking family from Jakarta. The film gives the impression that you wanted to travel to Jakarta. Why? What did you think was going to happen there?
Pav Gill: I didn't want to go on this trip as there were no credible reasons for it. However, the company insisted that I do this trip - that same week, that same month, or even two months later. It was only important to them that I go. That puzzled me because Edo K. had mentioned several times that his father-in-law was a drug dealer in Jakarta and that Wirecard was known for "making people disappear". My mother, who is a single parent and whose only child I am, then took my passport away because she suspected they were sending me there to get rid of me. This was then confirmed by two phone calls from Munich. I was advised that it was actually a one-way ticket because I refused to "play their game". After I refused to fly to Jakarta, I was forced out of the company in the days that followed.
DEFAULT: Were you intimidated or put under pressure after you left Wirecard?
Pav Gill: Yes, relentless. I still have screenshots of Telegram messages from people in Wirecard's compliance department who told me to "think about my mother" and "be vigilant" after the first three articles were published by the Financial Times were.
DEFAULT: Are you still afraid today?
Pav Gill: No. Anxiety is a disease that should not take precedence over integrity and courage when it comes to doing the right thing.
DEFAULT: How did you deal with the fear that must have been a constant companion in your efforts to uncover the incidents? You also noticed that you were being watched.
Evelyn Gill: I firmly believe in the power of sincere prayers and blessings, and that actually gave me hope that even if we emerge from lifelong struggle, everything will be fine in the end.
DEFAULT: You have decided to contact the investigative journalist Clare Brown. Was your son as convinced of this as you were right from the start?
Evelyn Gill: Both Pav and I have developed a great deal of admiration and respect for Clare's work over the years. We have seen that she is a courageous, honest and professional journalist with integrity. Pav instinctively trusted her, and like me, he was instantly on board with the idea. Clare has not disappointed us once. She was always there to listen and was very protective, even though she didn't feel like helping us.
DEFAULT: The "Financial Times" journalist Dan McCrum was investigated and other informants were threatened by Wirecard - have you ever had the feeling that it would have been better to just keep silent?
Pav Gill: Yes, often. But someone had to get up and take the plunge.
DEFAULT: How did you manage not to lose heart and to bring the events to light despite all the threats?
Evelyn Gill: I am a Sikh and we believe that the truth is indestructible and eternal. We are constantly learning the value of truth, truth triumph over lies, true humility over ego and pride, and if we honor the truth in every one of our actions, we will ultimately be rewarded in this life and beyond. However, we need a lot of patience and a very strong belief and conviction that the truth will ultimately overcome all other necessary evils and that victory will be ours. I am also very aware that it was not or is not a coincidence that people are chosen to reveal the truth. Only those who withstand all pain and struggles and refuse to give up despite all obstacles are those who are chosen by fate or karma to expose the lies and evil.
DEFAULT: Her health was affected by the events. You have had a stress-related stroke. How are you today?
Evelyn Gill: Yes, all of that put a strain on my health. My strong, active and energetic self is no longer like it used to be. However, I have accepted this as the new normal in my life and adapted accordingly. At first glance, I look very strong and healthy, but inside it's not the same as before. That said, Wirecard may have managed to harm my health, but they failed to kill my strong spirit.
DEFAULT: You have a very close relationship with your son. Did the processes at Wirecard influence that? Are you still afraid for him today?
Evelyn Gill: Pav and I have always had a close relationship and are still close. Wirecard hasn't changed that except that Pav has become very protective since my illness and it's now a reverse role as he's now more like a parent than a son. Parents will always be afraid for their children, and of course I am afraid for him. But I force myself to consciously convert this fear into the belief that he will always be protected.
DEFAULT: Have you been able to process all of the experiences you have made at Wirecard?
Pav Gill: Yes. I've always looked forward rather than backward.
DEFAULT: What do you think would have happened if you hadn't brought down Wirecard?
Pav Gill: I think then it would just have gone on for a while. There was the "Panther" project - that is, Wirecard's plan to take over Deutsche Bank. If that had worked, everything would have been so interwoven at some point that it would probably have been impossible to explain it all.
DEFAULT: How do you explain that the authorities have not yet called you in as a witness?
Pav Gill: I don't think I can explain anything that law enforcement and regulators have done to date. They have to answer that themselves.
DEFAULT: How do you feel today when you think of everything that happened and know that an ex-Wirecard manager, Markus Braun, is in custody and the company collapsed? That the scam is over?
Pav Gill: I'm glad an obviously criminal company was shut down. Nonetheless, I am still concerned as many of the actors who knowingly and badly played along here are still at large. It remains to be seen whether the legal system will work and whether they will be fully accountable for their actions.
DEFAULT: What are you doing now?
Pav Gill: I'm the Chief Legal Officer at Zipmex, a digital asset exchange. It's by far one of the best companies I've ever worked for. I am grateful to be working with a senior management team that puts law and compliance first in everything they do. Especially in the controversial and evolving environment for digital assets.
DEFAULT: You said in the documentary that you will not find peace until what goes on around Wirecard and what was done to your son is made public. Have you now found your peace with the matter?
Evelyn Gill: Yes, I've found my peace now that Wirecard has finally been exposed. However, we were also very concerned about the many innocent Wirecard employees who lost their jobs and their livelihoods as a result of the collapse. But we are grateful that many have found a job again. My fervent and heartfelt prayers for her have been answered. (Bettina Pfluger, May 21, 2021)
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