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Philippines probes 57 persons of interest over Wirecard scandal

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/File Photo

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine authorities are investigating 57 foreign and local "persons of interest" potentially involved in a scandal at German payments firm Wirecard AG WDIG.DE, an official at the country's anti-money laundering agency said on Friday.

The Southeast Asian nation became embroiled in the collapse of Wirecard in June, with the payments firm initially claiming it kept $2.1 billion(1.64 billion pounds) in two Philippine banks, which the central bank and the lenders denied.

The persons of interest were included in a report sent to the National Bureau of Investigation, Mel Georgie Racela, executive director of the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), told a virtual news conference.

The list includes officers at Philippine lenders BDO Unibank Inc BDO.PS and Bank of the Philippine Islands BPI.PS believed to have forged documents to show Wirecard is a depositor, Racela said, adding that the banks were no longer part of the investigation.

In addition, immigration personnel who were said to have created fake entry and exit information on Wirecard’s former chief operating officer are among the persons of interest, according to Racela. The Bureau of Immigration did not respond to a request for comment.

“After we coordinate, we will now build up the case and file the necessary case,” Racela said, adding that not all the 57 would face criminal charges.

German lawmakers this month launched a parliamentary inquiry into the implosion of Wirecard, the country’s biggest post-war corporate fraud.

The AMLC is working with German authorities as it pursues a case against foreigners, Racela said.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Ed Davies

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