PH banks deny holding missing $2.1B cash of German firm Wirecard

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is investigating reports involving two local banks said to be holding the missing $2.1 billion cash of Wirecard AG, a German payments firm.

In separate statements, BDO Unibank, Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands denied claims Wirecard is their client, adding that they are also doing their own investigations.

"The document claiming the existence of a Wirecard account with BDO is a falsified document and carries forged signatures of bank officers," BDO said Friday.

BPI also said Wirecard's external auditor presented a "spurious" document to them in claiming that they have a banking relationship with the Ayala-owned lender.

It is unclear if the forgery was committed by a local bank employee or a Wirecard staff.

RELATED: Local bank officer sacked for fake document on Wirecard deposits

Wirecard, which has been in hot water since 2019 for allegations of suspected fraud, is again under scrutiny for deciding to postpone the publication of its 2019 financial statements after trust accounts supposedly holding 1.9 billion euros (about ₱107 billion) in overseas accounts were not acknowledged by the two Asian lenders.

The amount is said to be worth one-fourth of the company's consolidated balance sheet. Failure to trace where the amounts are will allow about 2 billion euros worth of loans to Wirecard AG to be terminated. A member of the firm's management board responsible for compliance has been suspended, while Wirecard's long-time CEO Markus Braun resigned Friday amid the controversy, with Dr. James Freis, Jr. stepping in as interim CEO.

"It is currently unclear whether fraudulent transactions to the detriment of Wirecard AG have occurred. Wirecard AG will file a complaint against unknown persons," the German company said in a statement.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the regulator is looking into the matter, while Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier confirmed that they have received a formal report from BDO.

Wirecard maintains presence in the Philippines as an e-money issuer, having acquired the portfolio of Citibank for this segment. It is currently involved in the issuance of corporate cards, with no footprint in the retail market so far.

Wirecard's Manila headquarters is along Ayala Avenue in Makati City, where most local lenders are also stationed. Its official local partner is UnionBank, but its president and CEO Edwin Bautista said in a text message that they had no escrow agreements with the company.