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CEO says Grenke is no Wirecard as it orders special KPMG audit

German leasing business Grenke rejected comparisons to the collapsed payment company Wirecard after a critical report by a short seller accusing it of fraud, and the company said it would commission a special audit.

Updates with details, background

FRANKFURT, Sept 18 (Reuters) - German leasing business Grenke GLJn.DE rejected comparisons to the collapsed payment company Wirecard after a critical report by a short seller accusing it of fraud, and the company said it would commission a special audit.

Grenke on Friday issued its most extensive rebuttal yet to a 64-page report by a short-seller, Viceroy Research, which was released Tuesday and accused the company of malfeasance and caused its shares to dive.

It was Viceroy that raised the alarm and bet big against Wirecard.

"We are honourable businessmen, and we refute any comparison with Wirecard," said the company's Chief Executive, Antje Leminsky.

Leminsky, speaking on calls to journalists and analysts, said that the special review by its current auditor KPMG would be concluded as quickly as possible.

Germany's financial market watchdog, BaFin, Germany's accounting oversight body, and prosecutors in Mannheim said they were investigating the Grenke case in the wake of the allegations.

BaFin said in a statement that it was investigating the allegations of market abuse in the report.

The watchdog said its probe included possible market manipulation by Grenke through accounting issues or by third parties in the form of an attack by short sellers.

Possible insider trading before the Viceroy report's publication was also under review, BaFin said.

(Reporting by Tom Sims, Patricia Uhlig and John O'Donnell; Editing by Ludwig Burger and David Evans )

((Tom.Sims@thomsonreuters.com; +49 30 220 133 645;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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