Justice chief cites 'indications' controversial Wirecard ex-COO in PH

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2020 05:16 PM

MANILA - A former executive of scandal-hit German payment processor firm Wirecard may be in the Philippines, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed Wednesday, as more details emerged surrounding the company's missing $2.1 billion funds.

Jan Marsalek, who was fired as chief operating officer of Wirecard on Monday, arrived in the Philippines on March 3 and left on March 5, according to Guevarra, based on records of the Bureau of Immigration.

But, he said, Marsalek may have come back and remains in the country. 

"However, there are some indications that he may have returned recently and may still be here," Guevarra said, adding that they found "something curious" in the BI database but he refused to elaborate.

He said he has asked the Bureau of Immigration to conduct an immediate investigation.

The missing billions of funds drew worldwide attention after Wirecard, which processes digital payments for commissions, admitted that the money may not have existed in the first place.

Two Philippine banks dragged into the scandal -- BPI and BDO -- came forward to deny that the funds were deposited with them, saying the documents were forged and a BPI employee has been placed on "preventive suspension."

A Filipino lawyer, Mark Tolentino, has also been accused of being a trustee for the missing funds, but he recently surfaced to deny any involvement in the scandal. He said he was merely asked to open bank accounts for his client, Wirecard. 

Wirecard's chief executive officer Markus Braun also resigned because of the scandal.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno urged banks Monday to tighten customer and employee checks.

Guevarra said Wednesday that after consulting with Diokno, he has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to "investigate certain individuals who are reportedly involved" in the case. 

"The NBI and the Anti-Money Laundering Council will work together insofar as there are indications of money laundering."