Philippines initiates investigation into German company Wirecard fraud

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The Philippine government’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is investigating the multi-billion dollar fraud at Germany’s Wirecard AG and has filed criminal complaints against the payment processing firm’s ex-chief operating officer, Jan Marsalek, and others.

Wirecard folded up last June, after filing for bankruptcy after it was embroiled in accounting fraud. The scandal involved discrepancies of over $4 billion that led to the arrest of its former chief executive Markus Braun. The fraud at the once high-flying payments group unraveled last year after Wirecard revealed the cash did not exist.

The electronic payment firm claimed it kept more than $2 billion in two Philippine banks, which both the banks, BDO Unibank Inc and Bank of the Philippine Islands, have denied.

Philippines Justice Minister Menardo Guevarra said that the NBI is investigating complaints of violating banking, cybercrime, and e-commerce laws as well as falsifying commercial documents.

In addition to COO Jan Marsalek, the M.K. Tolentino Law Office and Mark Tolentino’s role in helping Wirecard open accounts in the two said banks is being probed.

Marsalek has been untraceable since the auditors at EY refused to sign off on Wirecard’s accounts.

According to the statement from the prosecutor general’s office, if found guilty, penalties include imprisonment of up to 12 years and fines of up to 2m Philippine pesos ($42,000).

According to Prosecutor-general Benedicto Malcontento, it is believed that Marsalek met Tolentino in Manila in March 2020 together with EY and KPMG, both firms commissioned by Wirecard in 2019 to run a special audit into its accounting. Wirecard told EY that Tolentino was its trustee in the Philippines, authorized to oversee all its transactions in the Philippines. But Tolentino denies having been Wirecard’s trustee and accuses the German company of “identity theft”.  

But there are documents to prove that a meeting was held at Tolentino’s office in March 2020 with representatives from KPMG, EY and Wirecard, at which the lawyer reportedly admitted to be the representative authorized to open accounts at BPI and BDO Unibank on behalf of the payments group.  

Malcontento’s office said it would pursue the complaints as well as look into all the connections with Wirecard. The complaint from the NBI follows the arrest of two immigration officers who helped forge data to show that Marsalek had traveled via the Philippines in June 2020.

The Wirecard scandal has raised questions about the role of the auditors, and government financial regulators. As a result, EU financial authorities have proposed stricter rules for company financial reporting and auditors.

The post Philippines initiates investigation into German company Wirecard fraud appeared first on Industry Leaders Magazine.

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