It is unusual for an investigative reporter to reveal his sources, but to set the record straight I am acknowledging that Fraser Perring was a source in some of my previous Wirecard AG reporting. Specifically, earlier this year, Perring provided me with a set of documents I used in an article and connected me to several additional individuals that aided additional Wirecard reporting. Perring was not a key source whose information my reporting hinged on. By the time I was introduced to him in late 2017 I had been investigating Wirecard for months and I did not use any of the information he sought to provide in my first article on the company in January, 2018. But he did talk with me frequently and he did introduce me to someone whose research proved quite valuable.
As a reporter who over the years has drawn abundant legal threats and who in 2018 came within 24 hours of having to stand in contempt of a U.S. attorney’s subpoena (for refusing to provide testimony and notes for a trial), I am all too familiar with having to protect the origins of information I have obtained.
To be clear, I never told Perring the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation would protect his identity, and he never asked for this.
For a reporter, ordinarily if a source becomes suspect, simply ignoring this source is the wisest course. When I began to suspect that I was regularly being given incomplete or misleading information, then I felt my options had dwindled.
(Indeed in 2013 I wrote about someone who, earlier in my career, had served as a source for me: Bryan Caisse, a mortgage-backed-securities portfolio manager. I wrote about him after I learned he had been running a Ponzi scheme and, to do so, was using my 2008 article about him.)
Moreover, a journalism nonprofit designed to bring a measure of illumination to the capital markets should not ignore stories that make short sellers and other financial skeptics feel uncomfortable even though they form a significant part of its readership and donor base.
In other words, accountability journalism has true meaning only to the extent that everyone is kept accountable.
Clarification: This first paragraph of this disclosure was updated on Nov. 15 to better describe when Perring provided me with information that was used in my Wirecard AG reporting.