Two Philippine lenders said they didn’t hold cash on behalf of Wirecard AG, the German payments processor whose shares have tumbled after it said it was unable to locate more than $2 billion in funds.
A document purporting to show a link between Wirecard and the Bank of the Philippine Islands was “bogus” and may be part of an attempted fraud, the president of the Southeast Asian lender said in a phone interview. The nation’s biggest lender BDO Unibank Inc. also said the German firm isn’t one of its clients.
“No account was opened. Funds never passed through BDO,” CEO Nestor Tan said in a mobile-phone message. “This was just an issue of document fraud which was subsequently clarified by bank as spurious.”
BPI only became aware of the issue recently when a representative of Ernst & Young, Wirecard’s external auditor, showed it a certification supposedly coming from the bank, President Cezar Consing said.
“What this looks like to us is somebody trying to make it appear as if there were money with us when in fact there isn’t,” Consing said. “It looks like an attempted fraud.”
Shares in Wirecard have plunged after it said two unnamed Asian banks had been unable to find accounts with about $2.1 billion of funds. Its auditor EY couldn’t confirm the location of the missing cash and reported that “spurious balance confirmations” had been provided, Wirecard said.
A preliminary investigation by BPI revealed that an unnamed “very junior officer” of the bank had signed the document, Consing said. The other signature “looked like a
forgery,” he added.
“When EY showed us this letter, it was clear to us that this was bogus,” Consing said. The junior officer has been suspended while the investigation continues, he added.
“It looks like somebody just copied one of our letter heads and typed something and tried to dress it up so it looks like our certificate,” Consing said.
BDO said a document claiming the existence of a Wirecard account with the bank was falsified. Termination proceedings have been initiated against a marketing officer who allegedly fabricated the bank certificate, BDO said.
The Philippine central
bank said it’s investigating the Wirecard issue.
“If there was an attempted fraud, and I don’t know that for a fact, but if there was, I hope that our review of the letter and that our assertion that it’s bogus has at least stopped an attempted fraud,” Consing said in the interview. “If there’s really cash, I hope they find it. It’s not with us.”