One week before the collapse of Wirecard, in June 2020, the hunt for 1.9 billion euros in cash seemed to be accelerating.
Payment group auditor EY demanded cast iron to prove Wirecard’s claim that the money was in the possession of two Philippine creditors, the Bank of the Philippines (BPI) and BDO Unibank.
Proof of the amount of money was the biggest hurdle in Wirecard և EY’s health balance, which was the lifeline for the group, which was then blocked from its accounting.
As shareholders waited to register Wirecard’s annual results, Ian Marsalek, the group’s chief executive, was engaged in a series of crazy exchanges of electronic accounts bearing the name of Mark Tolentino, a lawyer in Manila who told the German company that EY is its trustee in the Philippines, overseeing cash in local bank accounts on its behalf.
On June 17, 2020, it was written by email from the account. “I am currently driving to BPI headquarters. ,,[and am] by phone with the bank. “
24 hours later, Marsalek returned fire. “Frank said, the current situation is extremely frustrating. Please call me! “
Luxurious lawyer, businessman, early supporter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte հավանական a potential YouTube star, Tolentino denies being a trustee of Wirecard.
His Manila office doubles as a studio, where he provides legal advice on a well-known channel to get him a plaque. The California company rewards anyone who reaches 100,000 subscribers.
Marsalek e-mail Days after mail Wirecard: filed for insolvency after discovering that € 1.9 billion in cash does not exist. Corporate fraud is currently being investigated by Munich prosecutors and is being investigated by the German parliament.
Prosecutors believe that Marsalek was one of its architects, assuming that his e. The emails were written knowing that 1.9 billion euros was fictitious. Marsalek’s lawyer declined to comment.
“It’s my email. Not the mailing address »
Email exchanges submitted by a Wirecard administrator to a parliamentary inquiry show how the Philippines suddenly found itself in the middle of the death of a company that had for years been considered a rare German technological breakthrough.
They also raise questions about Tolentino’s role. When FT visited Tolentino in his Manila office in late February, he described himself as a “victim” in the Wirecard scandal. Mars exchanging e-mails with Marsalek, he said: “It simply came to our notice then. This is not my email address. ”
a video Uploaded to his YouTube channel, however, he mentions the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, which appears in exchange offices with Marsalek. Tolentino did not respond to a request for comment on the email address mentioned in the video.
On the only other occasion that he spoke to FT shortly after the Wirecard failure last year, Tolentino said he was “Not Wirecard Proxy”, “Never signed any document” with the group, accused the disgraceful company of “identity theft”.
This account contradicts a special audit by KPMG Wirecard. The findings, published in April 2020, have increased the pressure on the EY to find irrefutable evidence that € 1.9 billion is real.
The audit application, which remains unpublished but has been seen by FT, details a meeting with representatives of KPMG, EY Y Wirecard in March 2020 at the Tolentino office, during which a lawyer says his company has opened bank accounts with BPI. և In BDO. on behalf of the payment group.
Tolentino told FT he had met “prospective clients” who spoke German, including one he described as “bosses” of people who thought they were his accountants in February or March 2020. , when they lined up near his office. He declined to give details, citing the lawyer-client privilege.
From oysters to Covid vaccines
Almost a year after the fall of Wirecard, Tolentino is expanding its eclectic portfolio of roles.
“I am a 20 percent lawyer, an 80 percent businessman,” Tolentino told FT in his office. His business interests include exporting seafood, he said, exempting hand-cleaning services.
He recently became the CEO of MKG Universal Drugs Trading, which he claims will be the exclusive distributor of China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine business in the Philippines when Jab provides the necessary authorization.
The vaccine has been at the center of controversy since some Duterte security personnel received doses in batches last year. smuggled to the country,
The furor probably did little to curb Tolentino’s political ambitions, which focused on a new organization linked to national boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who is now a senator.
It was as a lawyer that Tolentino found himself in the last, furious months of Wirecard’s existence.
By the end of 2019, € 1.9 billion was expected to be held in the accounts of OCBC, Singapore’s second-largest bank, with local company Citadelle Corporate Services, which probably acted as a proxy, providing Y EY was confirmation that money existed,
Change of trustee
According to the special audit appendix, Tolentino told KPMG that in November 2019, he signed a contract with Citadelle, transferring the responsibilities of a Wirecard proxy to him. The appendix states that Citadelle offered him to the payment group.
Citadelle CEO R Shanmugaratnam has been charged with fraudulent accounts in Singapore and has yet to file a lawsuit. Through his lawyer, he declined to comment, citing the proceedings against him.
OCBC had no banking connection with Wirecard and Citadelle did not have an escrow account, said a person familiar with the matter. OCBC declined to comment.
In March 2020, BDO և received BPI հաստատ Balance Claims, stating “MK Tolentino Law Office” according to documents seen by FT.
When the documents were shown, Tolentino declined to comment on whether his law firm had sent them, but confirmed that the signature on them was appropriate. “It still has no legal effect because it is a scanned copy,” Tolentino said. “It simply came to our notice then [for documents]»
Following that request, EY received confirmations that € 1.9 billion was in the banks, according to an audit report by Four Firms seen by FT.
But by June, KPMG’s special audit was pressing, and EY was demanding proof from the Philippine banks that the money existed. During the week of June 15, EY received its answer. BDO և BPI said that the previous alleged allegations of money existence were “false”.
Battle with banks
In the days that followed, e-mail exchanges with Marsalec included one of Tolentino’s accounts, which seemed to be making great efforts to resolve the situation.
A member of BPI’s legal team was called to say that the bank’s board would launch an investigation into an employee who contacted EY in an email. The e-mail also claimed that a meeting had been arranged with a member of the BDO board.
BDO told FT that it has no information either. About an “alleged” meeting with a post or board member. The և BPI, which did not respond to requests for comment, had previously stated that they had no connection with Wirecard.
Immediately after the fall of Wirecard, the Philippine authorities launched an investigation against the խմբի agents of the German group’s local business partners. Justice Minister Menardo Guevara told the FT last year that Tolentino had been summoned to “shed light on the matter”. Tolentino և banks are also involved in legal battles.
The unaffordable € 1.9 billion was not Wirecard’s only connection to the Philippines. It was the home of a payment processor, PayEasy solutions:, which was run by a former Wirecard employee and later revealed to be a forgery.
Tolentino is no stranger to government business. He was endorsed by Duterte, with whom he shares his university մայր fraternity, when he ran for mayor in 2016. And he lost in a town on the southern island of Mindanao, where both are from. Most recently, he briefly served as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation.
While the authorities are investigating the fall of Wirecard, Tolentino was in a storm because of the Sinopharm vaccine. He told FT that authorities interrogated him because of smuggling holes, checked the shrimp containers of the fishing business, but found nothing. According to him, it was “a waste [his] time. “
Duterte himself apologized this month for receiving an unauthorized blow from Sinopharm from a special Beijing-approved batch approved for “compassionate use.”
Whether or not Covid would be a hot topic in Philippine politics next year, Tolentino wants to get involved. “Political Beliefs” is the subject of one of his three Facebook pages, along with free legal advice և “jokes”.
The lawyer said he would be the first on the list of candidates for the Pacquiao-linked political organization, which is considered a strong candidate for the presidency next year.
The victory of the legendary boxer could still see that Tolentino won a seat in the country’s House of Representatives.