Briton allegedly linked to Wirecard case in S'pore handed four more charges of abetting to falsify a document

James Henry O'Sullivan is accused of instructing then Citadelle director R. Shanmugaratnam to issue a letter to Wirecard AG and two other firms. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - A man allegedly linked to a case involving German payments company Wirecard has been handed four more charges of abetting to falsify a document.

James Henry O'Sullivan, 46, who now faces five charges in total, appeared in a Singapore district court via video link on Wednesday (Sept 8).

The court heard that the investigation into the Briton's case is still ongoing, but he does not need to be remanded further. O'Sullivan was then offered bail of $150,000.

Local accounting firm Citadelle Corporate Services' then director R. Shanmugaratnam is named in all five charges.

O'Sullivan is accused of instigating the Singaporean to falsify documents on multiple occasions in 2017.

According to his latest charges, the Briton allegedly instructed Shanmugaratnam to issue letters from Citadelle to parent company Wirecard AG and two other firms - a Wirecard subsidiary known as Cardsystems Middle East FZ and Wirecard UK & Ireland.

Two of the letters to Wirecard UK & Ireland are said to have stated that Citadelle held a balance of more than €177 million (S$282 million) in an escrow account as of Dec 31, 2016, when, in fact, the account did not hold such a balance.

One letter was allegedly issued to Wirecard AG, stating that Citadelle held a balance of €30 million in another escrow account as of Dec 31, 2016, even though Citadelle did not maintain such an account.

O'Sullivan is said to have instructed Shanmugaratnam to issue the fourth letter to Cardsystems Middle East FZ, stating that there was a balance of more than €84 million held by Citadelle in a third escrow account as of Dec 31, 2016, even though Citadelle did not maintain it.

On Sept 1 this year, the Briton was handed one charge over a similar offence. His case has been adjourned to Oct 13.

Shanmugaratnam's pre-trial conference will be held on Sept 23.

The 55-year-old Singaporean currently faces 14 charges involving about €1.2 billion.

In an earlier statement, the Singapore Police Force said he allegedly issued 14 letters from Citadelle to Wirecard AG, its subsidiaries and an audit firm.

The letters "falsely represented that Citadelle held large sums of money in its escrow accounts at various points in time between 2015 and 2017".

The police noted that "Citadelle actually did not maintain such accounts or did not hold such balances in its accounts".

A search of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's database shows that Shanmugaratnam left his position in Citadelle in July this year.

The Straits Times previously reported that Wirecard Singapore had been providing payment processing services to about 1,900 companies here before the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) ordered it to stop on Sept 30 last year.

MAS also directed the firm to return all customers' funds within two weeks.

The shutdown of its payment services affected thousands of consumers, who were unable to make online or credit card payments to merchants on Wirecard SG platforms.

Wirecard AG filed for insolvency in Germany in June last year after admitting that €1.9 billion in cash was missing from its accounts.

The company's former chief executive, Markus Braun, and several other top executives have been arrested on fraud charges.

For each count of falsifying a document, an offender convicted in a Singapore court can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Those convicted of abetting the offence will face a similar sentence.

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