Filipino Lawyer Says He Has Been Charged For Wirecard’s Lost Billions

MANILA / SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A Filipino lawyer involved in a billion-dollar Wirecard fraud Mark Tolentino told Reuters he was surprised to be linked to the German payments firm and was “the victim of a trap.” . ”

Lawyer Mark Tolentino poses in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, in this 2013 photo. Mark Tolentino / Brochure via REUTERS

Wirecard filed for bankruptcy earlier this week after revealing that there was probably no $ 2.1 billion of cash in bank accounts in the Philippines. The revelation led to the arrest of its former chief executive and has sparked polls in Germany, Brussels and the Philippines as investigators try to determine what happened.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, Tolentino said he opened six bank accounts for a Singapore-based company, but did not know until the scandal broke that they were for Wirecard. He said the accounts never had more than a few hundred euros in them.

“It seemed like all the fingers pointed at me as the thief and manipulator of lost money,” he said. “I want to clear my name.”

“I am a victim of identity theft and false news and plot,” added Tolentino.

He refused to provide documents or other evidence to show how he had been deceived.

Tolentino, 39, has not been charged with any crime. Philippine Attorney General Menardo Guevarra told Reuters that Tolentino would be questioned on Monday as part of his investigation.

“He is the first to be invited to shed light on the matter,” said Guevarra.

The Philippine government has not said what its investigation will focus on.

Wirecard declined to comment.

Tolentino said he opened six euro bank accounts in the name of his law firm, MKT Law, at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco de Oro Unibank (BDO) on behalf of Citadelle Corporate.

Singapore company records show that Citadelle Corporate is a Singapore-based business management company.

A Citadelle employee declined to comment over the phone, and an email address on the company’s website was not active.

BPI and BDO say Wirecard was not a customer of theirs and that the documents purporting to show that Wirecard had deposited funds with them were false. BPI said it had fired one of its assistant managers for signing a false certificate of deposit, while BDO said it had fired a marketing officer for making a bank certificate.

Tolentino spent ten months in the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte as assistant secretary in the transport ministry before being fired in 2018 for discussing a government project with the president’s sister.

In a May 2018 statement, the transport ministry said it “welcomes and strongly supports the President’s decision to terminate Mr. Tolentino’s services as Undersecretary of Railways due to questionable business and unfairly involving the first family in matters related to the Mindanao railway project.

Tolentino said he did not discuss a government project with the president’s sister and that his dismissal was political.

Since leaving government, he has returned to legal practice and also teaches business law at a local university. He described himself as an experienced litigation and trial attorney on his Facebook page.

Additional reports by John Geddie and Neil Jerome Morales. Editing by Carmel Crimmins

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