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article imageGerman businessman in Wirecard probe dies in Philippines

By AFP     Aug 13, 2020 in World

A German businessman in the Philippines wanted for questioning over the Wirecard accounting scandal has died, the justice minister said Thursday.

Christopher Reinhard Bauer died from "natural causes" on July 27 at a hospital in the capital Manila and was later cremated, Menardo Guevarra told AFP.

"He was the same person summoned by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) in connection with the Wirecard fraud investigation," he said, after the government obtained official documents that confirmed earlier reports of Bauer's death.

German payments giant Wirecard filed for insolvency in June after admitting that the 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) missing from its accounts -- which it initially claimed to be deposited in two Philippine banks -- did not exist.

A Philippine probe showed the missing money had never entered the country's financial system. The Philippine lenders dragged into the scandal also denied transacting with Wirecard.

Bauer, his wife and their company were under investigation for potentially flouting the Philippines' anti-money laundering law, the country's central bank governor Benjamin Diokno previously told AFP.

Investigators did not specify Bauer's role in the accounting scandal, but the Financial Times has described him as a former Wirecard Asia Pacific executive.

Guevarra said previously that investigators had flagged a 2015 remittance from Wirecard's Asia operations to Bauer's account, "reportedly for consultancy services rendered".

Bauer's wife did not respond to AFP's questions sent to her Facebook account, which has since been deactivated.

Philippine investigators also announced Thursday they had filed charges against two immigration officers who allegedly falsified records to show ex-Wirecard executive Jan Marsalek had briefly visited the country after he was sacked from the collapsed company.

German and Philippine authorities want to question the former chief operating officer as part of their separate investigations into the scandal, but his whereabouts are unclear.

Entries in the Bureau of Immigration database show Marsalek arrived in the Philippines on June 23 -- the day after he was fired -- and left for China on June 24.

Guevarra said previously CCTV footage, airline manifests and other records prove Marsalek was not in the country on those dates.

The NBI said Marsalek had been in the Philippines in early March but there were "no indications" that he was still there.

The faked records "appear to be mere diversionary in order to divert the attention of the authorities in Europe to focus its attention in the Philippines and not in their jurisdiction," NBI said in a statement.

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