Philippines' justice minister confirms death in Manila of German businessman tied to Wirecard scandal

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2020 05:32 PM

MANILA – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday confirmed the death in the Philippines of a German businessman tied to the Wirecard fraud scandal.

Guevarra said that based on documents submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Reinhard Bauer, a German national, died on July 27, 2020 in a Parañaque hospital due to natural causes and was subsequently cremated.

“He was the same person summoned by the NBI in connection with the Wirecard fraud investigation,” Gueverra said of Bauer.

The DOJ last week said it was seeking to confirm the reported death of Bauer, which was first recorded in the Office of the Civil Registry of Parañaque City.

Bauer figured in the global Wirecard fraud scandal after it was revealed that he and his wife Belinda operated PayEasy, a Manila-based payments processor which is a key business partner for Wirecard.

Guevarra said initial information showed that "in 2015, an inward remittance to [Bauer's] account from Wirecard Asia was noted, reportedly for consultancy services rendered."

A Financial Times investigation showed that PayEasy Solutions accounted for €291.4 million of Wirecard's reported 2018 revenue of €2 billion.

Wirecard would later disclose that its outsourced operations in Asia, which covers PayEasy, had been misrepresented.

The Financial Times also reported that as late as last year, Wirecard granted PayEasy €260 million in loans.

German prosecutors later said that the fintech company granted unsecured loans to associate partners in Dubai, Singapore and the Philippines just before it filed for bankruptcy.

Wirecard, once a fast-rising fintech company, was hit with a global scandal after it emerged that the €1.9 billion in missing funds could have been non-existent after all.

The scandal led to the resignation and arrest of Wirecard chief executive officer Markus Braun while authorities are looking for fired COO Jan Marsalek who disappeared in the aftermath of the scandal.

The Philippines' NBI on Thursday announced it is recommending the prosecution of 2 Bureau of Immigration officials for faking the travel records of Marsalek, making it appear that he arrived in NAIA 1 in Manila on June 23, and left for China from Cebu the next morning.

The NBI said immigration protocols at that time disallowed passengers from entering the Philippines and there was no actual scanned data page of the passport of Marsalek. It also said the immigration officer who supposedly processed Marsalek’s papers was not in fact on duty at that time.

NBI also found out that there were no flights leaving the Mactan Cebu International Airport in the morning of June 24, and it was impossible for Marsalek to be in Cebu after arriving in Manila the night before, among others.