Philippines to investigate scandal-hit German payments firm Wirecard AG

Manila, Philippines. Photo: David Milmont/unsplash

The Philippines‘ anti-money laundering agency on Monday said it would conduct a “swift and thorough” investigation into scandal-hit German payments firm Wirecard AG and that it has drawn up an initial list of people and entities of interest.

Wirecard‘s collapse last week and admission that $2.1 billion of its cash probably didn’t exist came after auditor EY refused to sign off on accounts for 2019, adding there were clear indications of an elaborate fraud involving multiple parties around the world.

The Southeast Asian country became involved after the German firm initially claimed it kept the $2.1 billion in two Philippine banks.

Mel Georgie Racela, executive director of the Philippines‘ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), said entities of interest include three local firms – Centurion Online Payment International, PayEasy Solutions and ConePay International.

“As we continue to monitor developments and dig further, we may be able to identify more entities and individuals,” he told Reuters.

The Financial Times in March 2019 said the three firms were Wirecard partners.

Reuters could not determine their relationship to Wirecard. PayEasy did not immediately respond to e-mails and its telephone number was disconnected. Centurion’s number was out of service and ConePay could not be reached for comment, with no contact details on its website or its annual filing with the corporate regulator.

Wirecard Philippines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Philippine central bank governor, Benjamin Diokno, who chairs the AMLC, declined to say who else the probe might look at.

The central bank has said no money from Wirecard entered the Philippines‘ financial system. The local lenders named by the German firm – the Bank of the Philippines Islands and Banco de Oro Unibank – have also said it was not a client.

Wirecard Chief Executive Markus Braun was arrested in Germany last week and has been released on bail. German media have reported that German prosecutors will also seek the arrest of Jan Marsalek, its former chief operating officer.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told Reuters on Friday that Marsalek was in the Philippines on June 23 and immigration records showed he flew to China from Cebu the next day.

But Guevarra added that Marsalek was not captured leaving the country on airport surveillance cameras and there is no record of a flight to China from Cebu on June 24, suggesting he may still be in the Philippines.

Reuters

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.