JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe people allegedly involved in the missing 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) of German payment company Wirecard AG.
“The NBI will coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council in the initial phase of the investigation,” he said in a statement.
He ordered the probe after meeting with Philippine central bank Governor Benjamin E. Diokno.
Mr. Guevarra said that dismissed Wirecard board member and former Chief Operating Officer Jan Marsalek arrived in the country on March 3 and March 5, based on records from the Bureau of Immigration.
“However, there are some indications that he may have returned recently and may still be here,” he said. “I have ordered the Bureau of Immigration to conduct an immediate investigation.”
Mr. Diokno on Sunday said none of the $2.1 billion missing from Wirecard had entered the country’s financial system.
Local lenders BDO Unibank, Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands on Friday issued separate statements denying that they had any business relationship with the German company.
The two banks said they had informed Ernst and Young, the external auditor of the German firm, that bank documents on the funds were “spurious.”
BPI told Reuters on Saturday an assistant manager had been suspended because his signature was on one of the fraudulent documents. BDO, meanwhile, told the central bank one of its marketing officers had fabricated a bank certificate.
Wirecard on Monday said the 1.9 billion euros it had booked in its accounts likely never existed, a black hole that threatens to engulf the payment company and tarnish the reputation of Germany’s financial watchdog.
The one-time investor darling was holding emergency talks with its banks, which are owed roughly 1.75 billion euros, to avert a looming cash crunch.
The episode marks a dramatic turn in the fortunes of a homegrown tech firm that attracted some of the world’s biggest investors before a whistleblower alleged that it owed its success in part to a web of sham transactions. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas