“The story with Mark Tolentino, an illustrious lawyer in the Philippines, is arguably the most absurd twist in the Wirecard scandal. The man, who is mainly concerned with family law and was fired from a government office by President Rodrigo Duterte, is alleged to have managed 1.9 billion euros in trust accounts for the Dax Group.
The company had claimed it under its chief executive and major shareholder Markus Braun until EY’s auditors found that the receipts about the accounts were falsified. Braun is now in custody in Munich.
“Yesterday morning, the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office requested and received an arrest warrant for the former CEO of Wirecard to the competent investigating judge of the Munich District Court,” the authority announced on Tuesday. “The accused, Dr. Braun, then turned himself in to the Munich I Public Prosecutor’s Office last night. He will be presented today during the day to the investigating magistrate, who will decide on the length of detention.”
The construction in the Philippines sounds adventurous. The sum represents a quarter of Wirecard’s balance sheet total – and total equity reported at the end of 2018. After the Financial Times published considerable doubts about the fiduciary system, EY had also become suspicious.
In any case, the money is said to have been deposited with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco de Oro Unibank (BDO). Both banks have since confirmed that they did not have Wirecard accounts. The evidence was crude forgery.
“When we were shown the so-called certificate, it was very clear that it was wrong,” Cezar Consing, head of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), told the Reuters news agency. The Philippine Central Bank has also failed to identify transactions of billions that could indicate the alleged Wirecard funds. The receipts for the escrow accounts were forged.
Meanwhile, Wirecard’s new board of directors has admitted that the money accounted for simply does not exist. And that the related transactions were probably sham transactions. However, this news has probably not yet reached the Philippines. There, the alleged sham transactions appear to be leading a life of their own that has not yet ended.
After days of inquiries, dennis P. Manalo, a lawyer in Makati City, in the Manila metropolitan area, contacted him. His colleague Tolentino had previously announced him as his spokesman in a terse email.
And Manalo says in the statement that to nigoto’s law firm, MKT Law, is a representative. His core message: Tolentino had absolutely nothing to do with the forged documents that the Wirecard examiner EY had received from Manila. His company strictly adheres to the laws of his country.
For the sender of the message, the game with the Wirecard accounts is obviously not over yet. Formal requests have been made to the banks “to confirm the accounts and to treat them absolutely confidentially,” Manalo writes. Are new excerpts coming from Manila? With new, invented billions?
It is understandable that Tolentino wants to shift responsibility for the fraud. And it’s obvious that he can’t be the central figure in it. Wirecard himself has admitted that the transactions he allegedly managed as a trustee did not exist at all.
“The Board of Management also assumes that the company’s descriptions of the so-called third-party acquisition to date are incorrect,” the ad hoc announcement issued on Monday morning reads. “The Company continues to investigate whether, in what way and to what extent this transaction was actually conducted in favour of the company.” This also applies to Wirecard’s Asia business from the years before 2019. A Singaporelaw company acted as a trustee.