Singapore businessman charged with RM2.4b Wirecard fraud

SINGAPORE • Singapore authorities charged the director of a local accounting firm with fraud for falsely claiming his company held €475.5 million (RM2.38 billion) on behalf of disgraced German payments business Wirecard AG in 2016.

R Shanmugaratnam, a director of Citadelle Corporate Services Pte Ltd, was charged with five counts of “willfully and with intent to defraud” falsifying letters to Wirecard, Wirecard UK & Ireland Ltd and Cardsystems Middle East FZ LLC, according to charge sheets filed yesterday and seen by Bloomberg News.

Shanmugaratnam falsely stated that he held about €378 million in escrow across multiple accounts as of December 2016 and €97.5 million as of November 2016 in a fifth account, the charges stated.

The accusations follow six earlier charges — related to accounts purported to have held about €393 million — against the 54-year-old Singaporean, the first person to be indicted in the city-state over the spectacular collapse of Wirecard, which has reverberated across the world. Taken together the 11 charges cover about €868 million in cash, roughly half of the amount missing from the firm, though they cover different time periods.

Wirecard filed for bankruptcy in June after acknowledging that €1.9 billion it had listed as assets didn’t exist, triggering a global investigation. Singapore is home to Wirecard’s Asia-Pacific headquarters and the company had been expanding aggressively in the region, which accounted for almost 45% of the group’s reported revenue in 2018, second only to Europe.

Shanmugaratnam declined to comment on the charges via his lawyer. The state court will hold another hearing on Nov 26.

On Wednesday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ordered Wirecard’s local entities to cease their payment activities and return all customer funds by Oct 14 after the firm told the regulator that it’s unable to continue providing payment processing services to “a significant number of merchants”.

While Wirecard’s Singapore business isn’t part of the insolvency proceedings, administrator Michael Jaffe has mandated advisory firm FTI Consulting Inc to help with the planned sale of the local unit, Bloomberg reported last month. — Bloomberg