• The Financial District


A Filipino lawyer embroiled in a multi-billion dollar fraud at Wirecard, Mark Tolentino told Karen Lema of Reuters that he was surprised to be linked to the German payments firm and that he was the “victim of a frame-up.” Tolentino spent 10 months in President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration as an assistant secretary at the transport ministry before being sacked in 2018 for discussing a government project with the President’s sister.

Wirecard went bankrupt earlier this week after disclosing that $2.1 billion of cash supposed to be in bank accounts in the Philippines probably didn’t exist. The revelation led to the arrest of its former chief executive and has triggered probes in Germany, Brussels and the Philippines as investigators try to determine what happened.

In a phone interview with Reuters, Tolentino said he opened six bank accounts at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco de Oro (BDO) for his law office, MKT, on behalf of Citadelle Corporate, a Singapore-based firm, 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 that all fingers were pointing to me to be the thief and manipulator of the missing money,” he said. “I want to clear my name.” “I am a victim of identity theft and fake news and frame up,” Tolentino added. He declined to provide documents or other evidence to show how he had been duped.

BPI and BDO both say Wirecard was not a client of theirs and that documents purporting to show Wirecard had deposited funds with them were false. BPI said one of its assistant managers was terminated for signing a false certificate of deposit. For its part, BDO confirmed it had terminated a marketing officer for fabricating a bank certificate.

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