NBI, BPI file raps vs ex-Wirecard exec, ex-DOTr lawyer in $2.1-B scandal

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 05 2021 04:14 AM

MANILA — Almost a year since the multibillion-dollar Wirecard scandal broke out, Philippine authorities are finally taking the first step to prosecute those behind the international controversy that led to the closure of the Munich-based payment processor and financial services provider.

The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Manila-based Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) on May 31 filed a complaint against former Wirecard COO Jan Marsalek, former Philippine Transportation department lawyer Mark Kristopher Tolentino and several other persons, the Justice department’s Office of the Prosecutor General said in a statement Friday.

Marsalek, an Austrian citizen and Wirecard’s former number 2 official, has been tagged as the mastermind behind the global fraudulent accounting scheme discovered when the company’s auditor spotted 1.9 billion euros or 2.1 billion US dollars in missing funds, thought to be deposited in bank accounts in East Asia. 

But the Philippine central bank denied the funds entered the Philippine banking system and 2 Philippine banks — BPI and BDO — denied having the funds in their possession, nor of having business ties with Wirecard. 

BPI and BDO have since terminated “rogue” employees.

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Tolentino, on the other hand, surfaced in June last year to deny he served as trustee to the missing funds, claiming he was only asked to open 6 Euro bank accounts for his client, Wirecard, under his law firm M.K Tolentino Law Office.

Tolentino, who had earlier been fired as assistant secretary from the Transportation department over alleged improper dealings in connection with the Mindanao railway project, said that with respect to Wirecard, he was a victim of frame-up and identity theft. 

Also included in the raps were Joey Dela Cruz Arrellano alias Joey Cruz Arellano and Judith Singayan Pe as well as several other unidentified persons, whose participation in the scandal were not indicated in the press statement.

The complaint filed before the Department of Justice was for falsifying commercial documents such as bank certifications, making false entries in bank reports or statements, among other computer-related offenses under the Cybercrime Prevention Act on confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems.

The complaint also alleged possible violations under the Revised Penal Code, the General Banking Act, the New Central Bank Act, and the Electronic Commerce Act over hacking or authorized access into a computer system or server.

A copy of the complaint was not made available to the media. 

“The complaint will undergo preliminary investigation. The Prosecutor General assigned prosecutors to thoroughly investigate the present complaint, with the directive that other pending or future cases between or among the same or related parties, involving the same controversy, shall likewise be consolidated to, and resolved by the same assigned prosecutors,” Assistant Prosecutor Honey Rose Delgado from the Office of the Prosecutor General said.

A preliminary investigation determines whether there is probable cause to charge respondents in court.

'TAMPERING IMMIGRATION RECORDS'

Meanwhile, Delgado also disclosed that the Office of the Prosecutor General has charged 2 immigration officials over their role in tampering immigration records to make it appear that Marsalek supposedly arrived in the Philippines on June 23, 2020 and left for China the next day.

Immigration officers Perry Michael Pancho and Marcus Nicodemus will be charged before the court with violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Marsalek had gone into hiding shortly after the scandal broke out, reportedly traveling to Belarus first before the trail went cold.

Two Austrians were reportedly arrested in January this year for supposedly facilitating Marsalek’s escape.

In August last year, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed the death of Christopher Reinhard Bauer, a German national also tied to the scandal.

Bauer reportedly died on July 27, 2020 in a Parañaque hospital due to natural causes. 

He was subsequently cremated, according to Guevarra.