Philippine authorities file criminal complaint against former Wirecard Operations Director

Philippine authorities have filed a criminal complaint against individuals over the Wirecard scandal, including former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek, following an investigation examining the collapse of the German payments group.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement Friday that the National Bureau of Investigation has recommended charges against four individuals, also including Marc Tolentino, a Manila-based attorney.

The Southeast Asian country took center stage during Wirecard’s internal meltdown after the company claimed it had 1.9 billion euros in cash in two local banks, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and BDO Unibank. The high-altitude payments group scam broke out last year after Wirecard revealed the cash wasn’t there. Wirecard filed for bankruptcy in June 2020.

In its statement, the attorney general’s office said the National Bureau of Investigation also recommended that charges be brought against Joy dela Cruz Arellano, Judith Sinjayan Pei and other unnamed individuals. Filipino investigators recommended charges against BPI, which also filed the complaint.

The recommended charges include forging commercial documents as well as violating the General Banking Act, the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the E-Commerce Act. If convicted, penalties include up to 12 years in prison and fines of up to 2 million Philippine pesos ($42,000), according to a statement from the attorney general’s office.

The accusations revolve around bank documents that claimed the alleged 1.9 billion euros existed and were shown to Wirecard EY’s auditor.

Marsalek, who German prosecutors believe was one of the architects of the multi-billion-euro scam, has been on the run since the collapse of Wirecard and is wanted by Interpol.

Prosecutor Benedicto Malcontento told the Financial Times that the complaints allege that Marsalek and Tolentino met in Manila in March 2020 with EY and KPMG, which Wirecard’s supervisory board in 2019 commissioned to conduct a private audit of its accounts.

Wirecard told EY that Tolentino was her trustee in the Philippines, overseeing cash in local bank accounts on her behalf. Tolentino denies being a trustee of Wirecard and has previously accused the German company of “identity theft”.

The KPMG audit addendum, which has not yet been published but has been seen by the Financial Times, details a meeting in Tolentino’s office in March 2020 with representatives from KPMG, EY and Wirecard that the attorney said his firm said opened bank accounts at BPI and BDO Unibank on behalf of the payments group. The banks previously said it had nothing to do with Wirecard.

Malcontento told the Financial Times that Arellano is accused of producing false documents confirming Wirecard was holding cash in BPI, which allegedly received payments from Pe and other individuals whose names have not been disclosed at this point.

Tolentino, BPI and Marslak’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Malcontento’s office said it will conduct a “preliminary investigation” into the complaint as well as consolidate and oversee the pending and future cases related to Wirecard.

The complaint from the National Bureau of Investigation follows the indictment of two immigration officers who were involved last year data tampering To clarify that Marsalek traveled through the Philippines in June 2020.

Additional reporting by Olaf Storbeek

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