In the career of Markus Braun, the long-time boss and major shareholder of Wirecard, things only went up for two decades.
During the internet trade boom, he turned the loss-making start-up into an international technology company.
The Munich Wirecard AG and the Austrian Braun were something like the European answer to Amazon and Jeff Bezos, to Apple and Steve Jobs.
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The crash was rapid and violent.
The spectacular insolvency of the former Dax group two and a half years ago, in which thousands of shareholders lost their money, brought Braun straight to prison.
In the coming week he and two co-defendants will be tried.
The fourth criminal chamber of the Munich district court is about alleged commercial gang fraud in the billions, balance sheet falsification, market manipulation and breach of trust.
The register of criminal offenses is long and for the 53-year-old Braun there are only two options: victim or perpetrator.
Either he was betrayed like many others by his longtime companion Jan Marsalek.
Or he is the head of a gang that has concocted what is probably the most spectacular fraud scandal in German economic history.
Then he has to go to prison for up to 15 years.
The "Stupidest CEO Ever"?
Jörn Leogrande, once a Wirecard employee of Braun and Marsalek and now a sought-after author, sums up Braun's alternatives to a simple common denominator: "Either he gives the dumbest CEO of all time, namely that manager who doesn't know where more than 75 percent of his company's sales are really come here.
Or he admits that he is involved in a gang fraud.
Markus opts for the first variant," says Leogrande's Wirecard book "Bad Company".
The Munich I public prosecutor believes in the second variant.
Chief prosecutor Hildegard Bäumler-Hösl and her colleague Matthias Bühring and a team of seven have stored 42 terabytes of data, their investigations fill more than 700 volumes and result in a 474-page indictment.
Bühring and the two prosecutors Henning Heinen and Inga Lemmers are expected to need five hours just to read out the 89-page indictment.
During this time, the public prosecutor wants to show how Braun, with his possible accomplices Oliver B., the former Wirecard representative in Dubai, and Stephan von E., chief accountant at the time, would have worked towards Wirecard AG as a "rapidly growing, was perceived as an extremely successful fintech company".
That's why the trio invented "allegedly extremely profitable business, especially in Asia".
This is how it will probably begin, the mammoth trial that will be heard from Thursday in the courtroom of the Stadelheim correctional facility.
Braun, who has previously spent his pre-trial detention in the Augsburg-Gablingen correctional facility 85 kilometers away, has “moved” to Stadelheim for the trial.
Many prominent criminals have been imprisoned behind the high prison walls, such as Beate Zschäpe, the main defendant in the NSU trial.
A few years ago, the Free State had a 17-million-euro negotiation room built on the site in Munich's Giesing district.
The windowless hall is semi-buried with a lot of reinforced concrete and is ideally suited for processes that have to take place under particularly strict security precautions.