Security & Fraud

Philippine Wirecard Inquiry Targets Two Bank Employees

Wirecard

The Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council said investigators are focusing on two rogue bank employees in the Wirecard AG scandal.

The government watchdog discovered the workers from Banco de Oro and Bank of the Philippine Islands forged documents the German payments company used to mislead its auditor about the $2.1 billion in missing funds, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Last month, the collapse of Wirecard commenced when Ernst & Young became suspicious of letters confirming the existence of the accounts and the amounts held in two Philippine banks. The banks later confirmed the letters were fakes.

Following the revelation, Wirecard Founder and CEO Markus Braun resigned.

The Journal reported the two bank employees, who the Council said acted “in exchange for financial gain,” have been fired.

Mel Georgie Racela, executive director of the regulatory panel, said the council’s findings have been shared with law enforcement agencies who will consider criminal charges.

In addition to the two fired workers, Racela said more than four dozen others and entities are under investigation.

Banco de Oro and Bank of the Philippine Islands didn’t respond to requests for comment, according to the report.

Chuchi Fonacier, deputy governor of the Financial Supervision Sector at the Philippines’ central bank, defended the island nation’s financial sector.

“This will not tarnish the reputation of the Philippines because our strong oversight protocols proactively identified and addressed the issues,” Fonacier told the WSJ. “This case is evidence of bad actors, not evidence of any fault on the part of the Philippines banking system.”

Attorney Mark Tolentino, who was identified on the forged bank documents as Wirecard’s trustee, is among the people connected to the company of interest to Philippine authorities. Racela said he is seen as a go-between.

Tolentino’s lawyer has denied that foreign currency accounts opened in the name of his law firm were linked to Wirecard, alleging he was the victim of identity theft.

“If German authorities share information about some sort of criminal activity we will provide them with the necessary information,” Racela told the paper. “We’re open to all options.”

The Philippines is the latest country to investigate Wirecard. Authorities in Germany, the United Kingdom and Singapore opened investigations a month ago.

This week, Wirecard hired a forensic team to investigate the accounting scandal.

Once worth $28 billion before it collapsed, Wirecard has contracted with Alix Partners, the New York-based forensic accounting firm, to explore the two missing deposits in Philippines banks.

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