Wirecard’s Masalek Joins Interpol’s Most Wanted

  • Austrian Jan Marsalek has been a director of Wirecard until June 2020, responsible for day-to-day operations, and is also the main handle of the business in Southeast Asia.
  • A key figure in the Wirecard fraudulent accounts scandal, 44-year old Christopher Bauer, recently died in the Philippines.
  • Munich prosecutors believe that in the Wirecard scandal and bankruptcy, banks and investors are estimated to have suffered a loss of €3 billion.

The German Federal Criminal Investigation Bureau has officially issued an arrest order against Jan Marsalek, the former chief operating officer of the defunct German payment processors Wirecard. Not long ago, another German businessman who was closely related to the Wirecard scandal died in the Philippines.

The Wirecard scandal is a series of accounting scandals that resulted in the insolvency of Wirecard, a German payment processor and financial services provider that is part of the DAX index. On 25 June 2020, Wirecard filed for insolvency after revelations that €1.9 billion was “missing,” the termination and arrest of its CEO Markus Braun.

Austrian national Marsalek has been a director of Wirecard until June 2020, responsible for day-to-day operations, and is also the main handle of the business in Southeast Asia. He is suspected of working with other defendants to exaggerate Wirecard’s total assets and turnover through false transactions, creating the illusion that the company is financially strong, and deceiving customers and investors.

Wirecard once claimed that there were approximately €1.9 billion worth of funds in the two banks in the Philippines, but the Central Bank of the Philippines stated that Wirecard does not have any funds in the Bank of the Philippines.

Experts from the Ernst & Young audit company also failed to find any whereabouts of the €1.9 billion. This figure is equivalent to a quarter of Wirecard’s total balance sheet. After the financial fraud scandal was exposed, Wirecard, one of the top 30 companies on the Dax stock market in Germany, officially filed for bankruptcy on June 25.

The founder and president of the company, Markus Braun, resigned and surrendered, and is currently under judicial investigation. The whereabouts of the core executive, Masalek, is a mystery. It was once reported that he snuck into the Philippines on June 23, and flew to China the next day.

However, the Philippine authorities later stated that the immigration officer had forged the entry information of Masalek, and said the person did not appear to have stayed in the Philippines. In mid-July, there were media reports that Masalek might be in Belarus or Russia.

The German Federal Criminal Investigation Bureau in Wiesbaden issued an arrest order against Masalek on Thursday, and stated that, based on the current investigation results, Masalek is likely to abscond abroad.

Death of Key Figures in the Philippines

Jan Marsalek is a former Austrian financier. He has been a fugitive since June 2020 because of his role in the collapse of Wirecard.

According to a report by German Business Weekly, a key figure in the Wirecard fraudulent accounts scandal, 44-year old Christopher Bauer, recently died in the Philippines. He and Masalek were very close. In 2007, Bauer established Wirecard’s first branch in Asia in the Philippines.

Later, he stopped working for Wirecard but had close business dealings with Wirecard through two partner companies. One company, called PayEasy Solutions, accounted for approximately 15% of Wirecard’s turnover in its 2018 business statement, more than one-fifth of the income. Bauer also registered a tourist bus company.

According to an obituary published in a newspaper in Hessen, Bauer died on July 27. The Philippine authorities did not announce the cause of death. Philippine Attorney General Menardo Guevarra told the Financial Times that he will review whether it is necessary to investigate the incident.

Bauer’s father told the German Business Daily that his son was not ill during his lifetime, but was weak for a time. He and his family did not know much about it, but he believed that his son died naturally.

Bauer, together with Masalek, received KPMG’s special auditors and Ernst & Young auditors in Manila in early March. At the time, they introduced  PayEasy Solutions, which was responsible for “high-risk customers” involved in online gaming and the pornography industry.

The Philippine authorities said that the investigation surrounding the Wirecard scandal would take months. Munich prosecutors believe that in the Wirecard scandal and bankruptcy, banks and investors are estimated to have suffered a loss of €3 billion.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

Leave a Reply