German businessman in Wirecard probe dies in Philippines

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Manila (AFP)

A German businessman in the Philippines wanted for questioning over the Wirecard accounting scandal has died, the justice minister said on Thursday.

Christopher Reinhard Bauer died of “natural causes” on July 27 in a hospital in the capital Manila and was subsequently cremated, Menardo Guevarra told AFP.

“It was the same person summoned by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) as part of the Wirecard fraud investigation,” he said, after the government obtained official documents confirming the reports. of Bauer’s death.

German payments giant Wirecard filed for insolvency in June after admitting that the 1.9 billion euros ($ 2.2 billion) missing from its accounts – which it initially claimed was deposited at two banks Philippines – did not exist.

A Philippine investigation found that the missing money never entered the country’s financial system. Filipino lenders embroiled in the scandal have also denied dealing with Wirecard.

Bauer, his wife and their company were under investigation for potentially flouting the Philippine anti-money laundering law, the country’s central bank governor Benjamin Diokno told AFP.

Investigators did not clarify Bauer’s role in the accounting scandal, but the Financial Times described him as a former executive at Wirecard Asia Pacific.

Guevarra previously said that investigators reported a 2015 payout from Wirecard’s Asia operations to Bauer’s account, “apparently for advisory services rendered.”

Bauer’s wife did not respond to AFP questions sent to her Facebook account, which has since been disabled.

Filipino investigators also announced on Thursday that they had filed charges against two immigration officials who allegedly falsified records to show ex-Wirecard leader Jan Marsalek briefly visited the country after he been sacked from the bankrupt company.

Authorities in Germany and the Philippines want to question the former chief of operations as part of their separate investigations into the scandal, but he does not know where he is.

Entries in the Immigration Bureau’s database show Marsalek arrived in the Philippines on June 23 – the day after his dismissal – and left for China on June 24.

Guevarra said CCTV footage, airline manifestos and other documents proved Marsalek was not in the country on those dates.

The NBI said Marsalek visited the Philippines in early March, but there was no indication he was still there.

The false documents “appear to be simple hijackings to divert the attention of European authorities to focus their attention on the Philippines and not on their jurisdiction,” the NBI said in a statement.

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