The reported death of a top Wirecard executive has prompted Philippine authorities to conduct a probe, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed on Friday. The German credit card operator has recently hogged the headlines for charges of fraud.
The Justice Department is confirming whether a person who goes by the name "Christopher Reinhard Bauer" is the same person as the former Asia-based Wirecard executive. "Bauer," who reportedly died, is among key Wirecard figures being investigated for fraud. The Justice secretary said they will also look into the actual cause of the said person's death.
Pertinent documents like the deceased's certificate of death, which had been recorded in a civil registry in Manila, and burial permits are being processed by Philippine authorities, Guevarra said, so they can validate if the said person is the same one in the ongoing probe.
According to Guevarra, Bauer is among the personalities in an investigation currently being launched by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Council. These agencies, Gueverra told Reuters, are looking to confirm if Bauer is still alive.
The beleaguered German payment group's missing $2.1 billion (1.9 billion euros) was reported to have been kept in two of the Philippines's largest banks -- Bank of the Philippine Islands and Banco de Oro. Both banks denied the claims. The Philippine's Bangko Sentral also stated that the funds in question did not enter the nation's financial system.
Jan Marsalek, the former CEO of Wirecard, was said to have entered the Philippines on June 23. It was later reported that he left for China the next day, but Guevarra later revealed records of his entry in the Philippines were fake.
Philippine authorities disclosed last month that they were investigating Bauer and his wife Belinda as part of a massive probe into the payment processor's dealings.
Wirecard filed for bankruptcy in June after auditors learned that $2.1 billion of disclosed funds reportedly held in the Philippines were nowhere to be found. Bauer and his wife owned Payeasy Solutions, a major business ally of Wirecard with offices in the Philippines.
Based on a Financial Times report, Bauer met with Marsalek in Manila last March. Marsalek was nowhere to be found in late June after the company's accounting anomaly hogged the headlines. According to some sources, Marsalek is in hiding in Russia.
The speculations come as German regulators are reportedly scrutinizing Wirecard auditor EY regarding its involvement with the collapsed payments company. Documents from the Economic Ministry disclosed that regulator Apas is evaluating all of the Wirecard audits made by EY starting in 2015.