July 4, 2020 / 8:42 AM / a month ago

Wirecard ex-COO Marsalek's entry into Philippines was faked, minister says

MANILA (Reuters) - Immigration records showing Wirecard’s former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek arrived in the Philippines on June 23 and departed for China the next day were falsified, Philippines Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions, is pictured at its headquarters in Aschheim, near Munich, Germany, July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

Guevarra said the immigration officers who inputted the fictitious entries have been relieved of their duties and face administrative sanctions.

“The investigation has now turned to persons who made the false entries in the database, their motives and their cohorts,” Guevarra told reporters.

Marsalek, 40, was fired as COO of the German firm on June 18 after auditor EY refused to sign off on Wirecard’s accounts. The company, once one of the hottest fintech companies in Europe, collapsed a week later owing creditors almost $4 billion after disclosing a $2.1 billion hole in its accounts that auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.

The missing money was purportedly held in escrow accounts at two Philippine banks, which have denied any links with the Wirecard.

Guevarra said it was possible Marsalek could be in the country, telling Reuters, “Notwithstanding the Bureau of Immigration report, I do not totally discount the possibility that Marsalek may be in the Philippines.”

“We are an island country, and there are backdoors through which undocumented foreigners may slip through,” he said.

Munich prosecutors obtained arrest warrants against ex-CEO Markus Braun and Marsalek on June 22. Braun turned himself in that day, but Marsalek has disappeared and his mobile number is no longer in service.

Both are suspected of market manipulation, false accounting and fraud, while the circle of suspects has widened to the entire management board of Wirecard.

Marsalek’s lawyer has declined all requests for comment.

Marsalek had oversight of Wirecard’s Asian operations, which are at the centre of suspicion by auditors and prosecutors of attempts to falsely inflate cash balances, turnover and profit.

Guevarra said earlier immigration records had shown that Marsalek had been in the Philippines from March 3 to 5.

Reporting by Karen Lema; Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine in Berlin; Editing by William Mallard

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