Briton allegedly linked to Wirecard case in S'pore handed two more charges

James Henry O'Sullivan is accused of instigating the falsification of documents on multiple occasions. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Briton allegedly linked to a case involving German payment processing company Wirecard was on Thursday (May 5) handed two more charges of abetting to falsify documents.

The latest charges are said to be linked to a local firm called Strategic Corporate Investments.

James Henry O'Sullivan, 47, now faces seven charges in total.

Local accounting firm Citadelle Corporate Services' then director R. Shanmugaratnam is also named in all seven charges. He faces a total of 14 charges.

The Singaporean, now 56, was a secretary at Strategic.

He left the position at Strategic in August 2020, according to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

In July last year, he left his position at Citadelle.

O'Sullivan is accused of instigating Shanmugaratnam to falsify documents on multiple occasions between 2017 and 2018.

According to O'Sullivan's latest charges, he allegedly instructed Shanmugaratnam to issue a letter dated March 14, 2017, from Strategic to parent company Wirecard confirming that Strategic held a total amount of more than €54 million (S$78.8 million) under escrow in its bank account as at Dec 31, 2016, when the account did not hold such amount.

O'Sullivan is also accused of instructing Shanmugaratnam to issue another letter dated Feb 15, 2018, from Strategic to Wirecard confirming that Strategic held nearly €30 million and more than €24million under escrow in its bank account as at Dec 31, 2017, even though the account did not have the amount.

Escrow is an essential service in capital markets that supports transactions such as mergers and acquisitions.

In a statement last year, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said Shanmugaratnam allegedly issued 14 letters from Citadelle to Wirecard, its subsidiaries and an audit firm.

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

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

Another Singaporean, Thilagaratnam Rajaratnam, 58, who used to be a director at Strategic, was also charged on Thursday with an offence under the Companies Act.

In a statement on Thursday, the SPF said: "He was alleged to have failed to use reasonable diligence in the discharge of the duties of his office, by signing letters confirming that Strategic held certain sums of money under escrow in its bank account, without ascertaining whether the contents (of) these letters were true."

Thilagaratnam allegedly committed the offence between March 29, 2016, and April 7, 2018.

The cases involving all three men are still pending.

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, 2020.

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

Wirecard filed for insolvency in Germany in June 2020 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 were then arrested.

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

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