Philippine central bank disqualifies bankers linked to Wirecard

Wirecard filed for bankruptcy in June after acknowledging that S$3.05 billion it had listed as assets did not exist. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA • The Philippine central bank said it will ban from the industry former bank employees who allegedly falsified documents for German payment company Wirecard.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is adding the former bankers to a list of people disqualified from becoming directors or officers at any supervised financial institution, it said in an e-mail to Bloomberg yesterday.

Wirecard filed for bankruptcy in June after acknowledging that €1.9 billion (S$3.05 billion) it had listed as assets did not exist, triggering an investigation that has spanned regions from Europe to Asia.

BDO Unibank and Bank of the Philippine Islands have said that rogue employees falsified documents purporting to show Wirecard had deposit accounts at two of the country's largest lenders.

Meanwhile, the Philippines' dirty-money watchdog said yesterday that it has been coordinating with the German and Singaporean authorities in investigating Wirecard and people of interest. It reminded banks to strengthen their know-your-customer protocols.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council on Sept 11 said it had identified 57 "persons of interest", including foreigners as well as local bank officers and government officials, whose links to Wirecard are being scrutinised.

Meanwhile, Frankfurt prosecutors are investigating a subsidiary of state lender KfW for a €100 million credit line to Wirecard.

In a statement on Tuesday, public prosecutors in Germany's financial capital said a Frankfurt-based lender had granted Wirecard the credit in 2018 and extended it last year without requiring collateral to protect against losses.

The prosecutors did not name the bank, but KfW separately said that its subsidiary Ipex-Bank was the subject of the investigation.

Wirecard's administrator is facing declining interest in the company's German assets after another potential buyer, Solarisbank, followed Deutsche Bank's lead and pulled out of the bidding last week.

Solarisbank is backed by companies that include Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria and ABN Amro Bank.

Four companies are still involved in the sale process, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

They include Banco Santander, Lycamobile and Italian payment company SIA as well as Heidelpay, the sources said.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2020, with the headline Philippine central bank disqualifies bankers linked to Wirecard. Subscribe