financial scandals

Wirecard-linked businessman dies in PH; airport fixers busted

Lian Buan
Christopher Bauer, who is being identified as an Asia executive for scandal-rocked Wirecard, died July 27 in the Philippines 'due to natural causes'

The Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed on Thursday, August 13, that a German businessman who was part of a local investigation into scandal-rocked financial firm Wirecard died in the Philippines on July 27.

“Christopher Reinhard Bauer, a German national/businessman, died on July 27, 2020 in a Parañaque hospital due to natural causes. He was subsequently cremated,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Thursday.

Guevarra confirmed Bauer was summoned by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the Philippine counterpart of an investigation into the Wirecard fraud.

NBI: Immigration officials faked flight data

Meanwhile, the NBI also announced Thursday that it filed complaints of falsification of documents and graft against two immigration officers for faking flight data of the still at large Jan Marsalek, former COO of Wirecard.

Marsalek is now on Interpol’s red notice list, meaning there is a worldwide manhunt on the embattled Austrian financial executive.

The Wirecard financial scandal caused a seismic global shockwave after regulators discovered that some 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) was missing from the coffers of the German payments provider. Auditors later said that the $2.1 billion likely “do not exist.”

Now considered the largest international financial fraud case in recent history, the Philippines was dragged into fiasco because of local connections by the likes of Bauer and Marsalek. These affiliations gave rise to the suspicion that the money may be in trust accounts here.

Guevarra earlier said that Bauer “appears to be a former executive of Wirecard Asia.”

The Philippines’ central bank said the cash never entered the country’s financial system. Local banks which named in financial news stories – BDO and BPI – have denied having any relationship with Wirecard.

Wirecard has filed for insolvency and admitted that the 1.9 billion euros likely did not exist.

Airport records previously showed Marsalek entered the Philippines via Manila on June 23 and exited via Cebu on June 24. The NBI said Marsalek took no such flights, especially because there was still a pandemic travel ban during that period.

The NBI said 3 immigration officers from Manila and Cebu entered fake entries – but the 3rd officer said he was just ordered by a supervisor and tried to correct the data to no avail.

The NBI said it filed falsification complaints against Perry Michael Pancho assigned to the Mactan airport in Cebu and Marcus Nicodemus assigned to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.

“The entries on the Bureau of Immigration (BI) records for June 23 and 24, 2020, both spurious, 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,” said the NBI. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.