Ex-Wirecard COO facing fraud, cybercrime charges in PH

Philippine investigators have lodged criminal complaints against a former executive of collapsed German payments firm Wirecard and others for alleged bank fraud and cybercrime offenses, the justice secretary said Monday.

Wirecard was once a rising star in the fintech sector until it filed for bankruptcy last year after admitting that 1.9 billion euros ($2.3 billion) were missing from its accounts.

The money was supposedly held in trust in two Philippine lenders to cover trading risks carried out by third parties on Wirecard’s behalf.

But in June 2020 longtime auditors Ernst & Young said they were unable to find it, forcing the company to admit the money did not exist.

The Philippine central bank has said previously the money never entered the country’s financial system.

The National Bureau of Investigation lodged complaints on May 31 against the company’s former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek, as well as a Manila lawyer and bank employees, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told AFP.

State prosecutors were conducting a preliminary investigation, he said, which would determine if charges would be filed.

Marsalek, who remains at large after failing to turn himself into German investigators, was responsible for Wirecard’s Asia business, which became the focus of accounting irregularities.

The Wirecard implosion, which has drawn comparisons with the Enron accounting scandal in the US in the early 2000s, has been described as “unparalleled” in Germany by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

The company’s former chief executive Markus Braun and several other top executives have been arrested on fraud and money laundering charges over the massive scam. (AFP)