benjamin diokno
This file photo shows BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno at a press conference.
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No proof $2.1-B Wirecard funds entered Philippine banks — BSP
Prinz Magtulis (Philstar.com) - June 21, 2020 - 11:39am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:49 a.m.) — Regulators have so far found no evidence that local banks are keeping the $2.1 billion missing from German payments provider at the center of a global accounting controversy.

"The initial report is that no money entered the Philippines and that there is no loss to both banks,”' Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a Viber message to reporters Sunday.

"None of the $2.1 billion of German firm Wirecard entered the Philippine financial system," he said.

The assurance from the central bank chief came as part of BSP’s ongoing investigation over “spurious” documents that falsely showed BDO Unibank Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), two of the country’s largest lenders, hosting accounts containing 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) for Wirecard AG.

The amount represented the missing funds that Wirecard’s external auditors at Ernst & Young could not locate from the firm’s books, preventing them to sign off on the company’s financial records.

When E&Y auditors traced the money based on documents they examined, they found the money was funneled into “two Asian banks” which later turned out to be BDO and BPI.

On Friday however, BDO and BPI separately denied holding funds for Wirecard, which they said is not their client in the first place. The local lenders also disputed the documents that showed otherwise as “spurious.”

At least one marketing officer from BDO was fired for allegedly falsifying a bank certificate to make it appear the bank holds money for Wirecard.

BSP’s Diokno, for his part, tried to isolate the incident, reiterating on Sunday that the local banking industry is “well capitalized” with healthy balance sheets.

That said, the central bank’s probe continues as the controversy sparked concern of a bigger mess than the $81-million money laundering scandal that also involved a local lender four years ago.

The cyberheist, which saw legal charges against Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) still being heard to date, also resulted into the biggest P1-billion penalty charged by the central bank against a bank.

The missing at the time was transmitted by hackers from a New York account of the Bangladesh’s central bank to RCBC. Funds have remained unrecovered to date.

"The Philippine banking system was in a strong position going into the coronavirus pandemic," Diokno said.

(Editor's note: The sentence "The assurance from the central bank chief came as part of BSP’s ongoing investigation over “spurious” documents that falsely showed BDO Unibank Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), two of the country’s largest lenders, hosting accounts containing 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) for Wirecard AG." has been edited from an earlier version that said the accounts contained 1.9 million euros.) 

BANCO DE ORO BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS BENJAMIN DIOKNO
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