Police raid Wirecard entities in Singapore after reports of fraud allegations at payments giant

When The Straits Times visited the Pasir Panjang office of Wirecard on Feb 8, a police vehicle was in the driveway.
When The Straits Times visited the Pasir Panjang office of Wirecard on Feb 8, a police vehicle was in the driveway.ST PHOTO: NG JUN SEN

SINGAPORE - Police raided the premises of Wirecard on Friday (Feb 8) following allegations of fraud at the local office of the payments processing group.

When The Straits Times visited the Pasir Panjang office on Friday afternoon, a police vehicle was in the driveway.

In an e-mail to ST, a police spokesman said: ‘Police confirm that we have raided the premises of the Wirecard entities in Singapore."

Wirecard said it met law enforcement officials at its headquarters in Singapore and provided the police "with material in regards to their enquiry". The company is "working closely with the Singapore police to clear all allegations", said a spokesman. 

The spokesman added: "The accusations against employees of Wirecard are unfounded and no criminal actions were conducted."

The Straits Times understands that around 10 Commercial Affairs Department police officers went to the company at around 10.30am. One employee, who declined to be named, said that the mood was sombre though business had proceeded as usual.

According to the employee, the raid took place at the Wirecard's accountancy and compliance departments on the 14th floor of Mapletree Business City.

The allegations were made in a series of articles in Britain's Financial Times newspaper.

A report on Thursday (Feb 7) detailed that senior executives at Wirecard HQ knew of a so-called "round-tripping" scheme orchestrated in the group's Singapore office. Cash was moved around between Asian subsidiaries to artificially pad the books, the report said.

Wirecard provides cashless payment services to several clients in Singapore, including payment of Electronic Road Pricing gantries tolls via credit card, mobile top-up services for EZ-Link, Singtel's mobile wallet Dash and payment processing for ComfortDelGro. Other high-profile international clients include Samsung, Google and Apple.

The FT reports named Mr Edo Kurniawan, a Singapore permanent resident and one of the directors of Wirecard Asia, as a key executive who allegedly devised the scheme to "cook the books".

Two senior finance executives, Mr James Wardhana and Ms Irene Chai, were his accomplices, a whistle-blower from the company told the FT.

When The Straits Times visited Mr Kurniawan's West Coast home twice on Friday, a female occupant said he was away on a business trip. However, she declined to say if he was still in Singapore and said she has been told not to speak to the media.

Wirecard also declined to identify the individuals and the whistle-blower involved, stating that "we want to protect the company and in particular our employees and their personal rights".

 
 
 

Its spokesman said: "Wirecard's internal compliance completed a review of this matter and found the allegations unfounded. As a standard practice, an independent third party, Rajah & Tann, was called in to conduct an independent investigation."

He rejected media reports of a 30-page document by Rajah & Tann detailing allegations of "forgery and/or falsification of accounts" and suspected "cheating, criminal breach of trust, corruption and/or money laundering" in multiple jurisdictions.

Rajah & Tann's investigation will be completed soon and the results will be announced in due time, said the spokesman.

In a transcript of a Feb 4 conference call with investors seen by The Straits Times, Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun said he believes the document was a summary of allegations by the whistle-blower put together by the law firm before they were called in to conduct their investigation.

"Already today, we consider the whole issue as resolved, so we do not expect any material findings here," Mr Braun said in the conference call.

German-based Wirecard, which rose to prominence after it unseated Germany's second largest lender Commerzbank from its blue-chip status on the Dax index, has located its Asian operations in Singapore.

Out of Wirecard's 5,000 employees, 300 are based in Singapore. It also has a global compliance team of around 150. Some compliance officers are stationed in Asia, said its spokesman.

The company said its operations and business partners will not be impacted by these events.