He is the phantom in the Wirecard complex: while the former boss Markus Braun and two other former managers will be on trial in Munich in the billion-euro scandal from Thursday next week, Jan Marsalek is hiding from the investigators.

They currently suspect him in Moscow.

The 42-year-old is the player who made the Wirecard scandal ready for film.

Elegant clothes, a shaved head, 1.80 meters tall: there are a few photos of Jan Marsalek from the time when he was a supposedly impeccable businessman.

Born in Vienna on March 15, 1980, Marsalek dropped out of school and founded a computer company before joining Wirecard in 2000.

At that time, the company was in its infancy, earning its first money with payment systems for porn sites on the Internet and online gambling.

Brilliant, good-natured, lovable

Within a few years, Marsalek rose to become one of the most important executives, promoted by CEO Braun.

His former associates describe him as a handsome, "brilliant," "good-natured," and "lovable" man who had "the world at his feet" and "lived on airplanes."

A somewhat smooth facade, hardly anyone seems to know the real Marsalek.

His personal assistant Sabine Heinzinger said in the Bundestag investigative committee on the Wirecard scandal, "I don't know anything about him".

Marsalek has always separated work and private life.

However, he showed a few in retrospect striking peculiarities.

Marsalek avoided the United States on business trips because he feared criminal prosecution there without giving any reason.

He prefers to use the encrypted service Telegram for communication, and prefers to pay with cash instead of with the credit card that leaves data traces.

Marsalek maintained contacts by inviting guests to his home.

His villa had been beautifully renovated and was of the highest quality, one of his previous guests told AFP.

The villa is located opposite the Russian consulate in Munich.

Has Marsalek already established contacts there with the country that is supposed to keep him hidden today?

It would fit the very particular style with which Marsalek moved in the world of business and politics.

This movement had little to do with Wirecard's core business of the sober payment service provider: Here a lunch with France's then President Nicolas Sarkzoy, there support for the Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, and a friendship with the US porn baron Hamid Akhavan.

Marsalek called him "Darling".

Neurotoxin and detectives

According to an Austrian investigation document available to the AFP news agency, Marsalek paid detectives for secret information about a number of personalities from 2015.

Somewhat boastfully, he once showed a secret document with the formula for the neurotoxin Novichok at a meeting with businessmen.

Elsewhere, he boasted of contacts with the Wagner paramilitary group, with whom he claims to have traveled to Syria.

Marsalek certainly seems to have contacts that would be useful to a criminal.

When he was exposed as a fraudster at Wirecard and was fired, he left Germany a day later, on June 18, 2020.

The man, who had eight passports, faked an exit to the Philippines.

As it turned out, Marsalek actually chartered a private jet and flew from Austria to Belarus and from there to Russia.

Protected by the Russian secret service, he is said to be living in Moscow today.

A few months ago, the Munich prosecutors asked Russia to extradite the suspected billionaire fraudster - without success.

The Wirecard process now begins without Marsalek.

Whether he will ever return to Germany seems completely open.

If so, he would face many years in prison.