Bangkok The trail of Jan Marsalek, one of Wirecard’s ex-boss Markus Braun’s closest allies, is lost in the Philippines. On March 5, 10,000 kilometers away from the group headquarters of the payment service provider in Aschheim, the authorities of the island state officially took notice of the man who is considered the architect of Wirecard’s opaque corporate network in Asia.
That day, the COO officially left the country after a three-day short stay. But the government of the Philippines now has indications that Marsalek may have returned unnoticed.
The 40-year-old Austrian is a key figure in the Wirecard balance sheet scandal: he stood on the side of Braun on the group’s management board for a decade – until he was released on Thursday last week and then officially recalled on Monday.
“The employment contract was terminated extraordinarily,” was the short and concise statement in the Group’s ad hoc announcement. So far, Marsalek is the only former top manager Wirecards alongside Braun, who lost his job in the wake of the missing billions and possibly fake balance sheets.
Like his former boss, Marsalek must now face legal consequences: According to information from the Handelsblatt, an arrest warrant has been issued in his name. The public prosecutor’s office in Munich did not want to comment on this.
Marsalek suspects the environment in the Philippines
In contrast to Braun, who was released on bail, Marsalek – to whom the presumption of innocence applies – has not yet volunteered to the authorities. From his environment it was said that he is probably in the Philippines.
The country’s Minister of Justice, Menardo Guevarra, also confirmed this suspicion on Wednesday. He told journalists that there is evidence that Marsalek is still in the country. He asked the Immigration Service to investigate, Guevarra said.
The Philippines had become a central stage of the Wirecard affair at the end of last week. The auditor EY had revealed that bank documents over 1.9 billion euros, which the group claims to have parked in Filipino trust accounts, were apparently falsified. Wirecard later admitted that the bank balances “with a high probability do not exist”.
Payeasy is also based in the Philippines and, according to media reports, is one of the most important Wirecard partners in the nebulous business with third parties. These are said to have provided a large part of the profit that Wirecard allegedly made.
But since this week it has been questioned whether the profitable business even existed. The company said it was investigating “whether, in what way and to what extent” this business had actually been conducted.
Jan Marsalek was responsible for the third-party business on the board until his dismissal. The man, who appeared publicly with short hair, perfectly fitting suits and an Austrian accent, spent half of his life at Wirecard: At the turn of the millennium, he started at the age of 20 at the company, which at that time was still largely used as a payment processor for porn and gambling sites.
Marsalek joined the board ten years ago and was responsible for the international expansion of the company, which mainly took place in Asia. Marsalek’s name is associated with dubious deals, the backgrounds of which have not yet been clarified.
Mysterious fund from Mauritius
For example, he negotiated the takeover of an Indian group of companies for which Wirecard paid more than 300 million euros including premiums. The purchase was made through a mysterious fund from Mauritius, which served as a middleman.
This fund had bought the major part of the group shortly before the deal with Wirecard for only around 40 million euros. It is unclear who was able to enjoy the handsome profit from the transaction on the part of the fund.
Last year, the Financial Times newspaper reported that Marsalek was also aware of questionable transactions that Wirecard’s Asia headquarters in Singapore had targeted local investigators.
If Marsalek is actually in the Philippines, the German authorities may find it difficult to enforce their arrest warrant. The Federal Republic has no extradition agreement with the country, which is why a lengthy procedure would be possible.
The Filipino judiciary now wants to conduct its own investigation in the Wirecard case. The responsible minister Guevarra said: “There are indications of money laundering.”
More: Wirecard trustee: “The money in the accounts was just enough for an iPhone.”