^

Business

AMLC ready to assist on Wirecard fund search

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
AMLC ready to assist on Wirecard fund search
“Suffice it to state that the AMLC is prepared to receive and take action in respect of any request from our foreign counterparts in order to assist in their anti-money laundering operations…,” AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela said in an e-mail.
Geremy Pintolo / File

MANILA, Philippines — Dirty money trackers are ready to assist on the global search for the $2.1 billion missing funds originally thought to have entered Philippine banks, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said on Monday.

“Suffice it to state that the AMLC is prepared to receive and take action in respect of any request from our foreign counterparts in order to assist in their anti-money laundering operations…,” AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela said in an e-mail.

So far, Racela said none of AMLC's foreign counterparts have requested the agency's assistance to locate the 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) lost from the books of Wirecard AG, a German payments service provider. 

Currently, the investigation of AMLC and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have focused on irregularities concerning bank documents falsified to make it appear that BDO Unibank Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) were holding the funds. Ernst & Young (E&Y), Wirecard’s external auditor, flagged the incident to both banks, who then reported the matter to the central bank.

BDO and BPI, two of the country’s largest banks in asset terms, denied holding the money and serving Wirecard as a client.

No less than BSP Governor and AMLC chair Benjamin Diokno on Sunday also denied that the missing funds ever entered the local financial system based on “initial reports” from an ongoing probe. That said, BPI and BDO employees were found to have falsified documents to show otherwise. 

On Monday, Ayala-led BPI said the lender has “suspended” an employee who is now “under investigation” for forging bank documents. BDO earlier said “one of its marketing officers” was fired for doing the same.

It remains unclear what is the reason behind the crimes. Asked if charges will be filed against the bank employees who faked bank records, Racela said he could not reveal details on the ongoing probe.

“These documents were determined to have been falsified,” BPI told the Philippine Stock Exchange.

“The employee who may have played a part in the preparation of the said document has been suspended and is under investigation,” the bank added.

The Wirecard fiasco first exploded in January 2019, when a Financial Times report revealed accounting irregularities in the German firm in an attempt to steal money. In the latest development last week, E&Y auditors refused to sign off in Wirecard’s financial statements last year after they failed to account for 1.9 billion euros. 

As of 12 noon. on Monday, shares in BPI were down 2.07% while BDO shed 1.75%. The main index was also in the red. — with Prinz Magtulis

BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

BDO UNIBANK INC.

WIRECARD

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with