AMLC: 57 people, 'entities of interest' probed in Wirecard scandal

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2020 11:27 PM | Updated as of Jul 25 2020 03:54 PM

MANILA - The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said Friday it was looking to wrap up its investigation in August into the alleged $2.1-billion missing funds from German payments solution company Wirecard.

AMLC executive director Mel Racela said they were being thorough, and they expanded the probe to cover 57 people and "entities of interest".

“This is a complex case, if this is only a kidnap for ransom (case), one time transaction, deposit to an account, it would already be finished. Since it involves several persons, it is a complex case. It could entail more than 3 months investigation," he said.

However, Racela said the end of their probe wouldn't be the end of the work, and other investigations also need to be concluded.

"We closely coordinate with NBI (National Bureau of Investigation). We are at the stage conducting our respective investigations -- money laundering is AMLC, other criminal offenses is NBI. At our level we are past 50 percent. After we finish, we will sit down with NBI. From there, we will start building our cases," he said.

Racela said 57 people and entities of interest were being investigated, including 2 rogue junior officials who helped facilitate the production of alleged spurious documents submitted to Wirecard auditor Ernst & Young.

Lawyer Mark Tolentino was identified on the forged bank documents and claimed he was a victim of identity theft.

But Racela said, "He is still included in the persons of interest. In so far as AMLC and NBI is concerned.”

The rest of the names on the list, Racela said, comes from various sources. However, he explained that being included on the list does not mean you are a suspect.

"We adopt the all sources approach. If you are included in the list of persons and entities of interest, that does not mean you are accused. We source from media, law enforcement, both domestic and foreign. If they submit a request to us, then we include them in our persons of interest," he said.

Money laundering and falsification of bank documents are the possible charges being looked into by government, Racela said.

BDO declined to comment on the latest development in the case meanwhile BPI did not respond to requests for comment.

Mark Tolentino, in a statement, has maintained he committed no wrongdoing, claiming he is a victim of identity theft.

Meanwhile, BSP is conducting its own inquiry into bank regulations to figure out how Wirecard was duped into thinking it had $2.1 billion in funds parked in 2 Philippine banks.

BSP maintained the money never entered the Philippine banking system.

The BSP also released in mid-July a new Payment System Oversight Framework, in an effort to manage potential systemic risks in payment systems, which have become increasingly important and complex amid the accelerated shift to a digital economy, stoked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discussing the framework in a press conference, Philippine Central Bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said, “The framework introduces unified supervision with overlaps seen between the oversight authorities of the BSP and other regulatory agencies. This is in line with global best practices highlighting close interagency partnerships to mitigate potential systemic risks.”