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Police raid Wirecard office in Singapore following FT reports alleging fraud

Police raid Wirecard office in Singapore following FT reports alleging fraud

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the Wirecard booth at the computer games fair Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

SINGAPORE: The police confirmed on Friday (Feb 8) that it has raided the Singapore premises of German payments processing company Wirecard, which has been in the spotlight following a series of reports by the Financial Times newspaper alleging financial wrongdoing.

"Police confirm that we have raided the premises of the Wirecard entities in Singapore," they said in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.

According to its website, Wirecard provides online payment solutions and end-to-end services for merchants, airlines and travel operators, banks, telecom operators and service providers.

Some of its partners include Alipay, American Express, UnionPay, Visa, Mastercard, ComfortDelGro, EZ-Link, Cheers and Singtel's digital wallet Dash.

Financial Times reported last week it had seen documents from lawyers commissioned by Wirecard, showing they had found evidence of "serious offences of forgery and/or of falsification of accounts/documents" at the group's Singapore office.

The Singapore Police Force said on Monday that it was looking into the matter

Wirecard told Channel NewsAsia that it had met the authorities in Singapore on Friday morning to assist in investigations. 

"A meeting was all that took place," it said in a statement. 

"We reiterate that the defamatory accusations made by the FT against employees of Wirecard are unfounded. We intend to continue to cooperate with the Singapore police, and pledge to complete our internal inquiry and disclose these findings to the public," Wirecard added.

"We will also pursue all our legal avenues to vindicate Wirecard of the false and defamatory allegations."

LEGAL ACTION

Wirecard said earlier it would sue the Financial Times over the publication of three reports alleging fraud and creative accounting at its Singapore office, calling them defamatory and harmful to the reputations of people named in them.

The latest, published online on Thursday, alleged that Wirecard staffers had engaged in the "round-tripping" of funds to inflate reported revenues, and that managers from its Munich head office had been aware of the practice.

"In the article published yesterday, Wirecard employees are slanderously prejudged with unproven and false allegations," Wirecard said in an earlier statement.

"We will use all available legal means to protect the company and in particular our employees and their personal rights. Wirecard is taking legal actions against FT and its unethical reporting."

Wirecard did not say in which jurisdiction it planned to bring legal action. A spokeswoman added the company would act to protect the personal reputations of individuals named in the newspaper's reporting.

The company was also cooperating with the authorities in ongoing investigations into suspected market manipulation in Wirecard stock being conducted by the Munich state prosecutor with the backing of financial regulator Bafin.

Contacted by Reuters, the Munich prosecutor said it was aware of the Singapore police raid but this did not change its view that there was insufficient evidence to launch a criminal probe against Wirecard's managers.

Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, the company's largest shareholder with a 7 per cent stake, said on Monday that no evidence had been found of criminal misconduct either by the company's own compliance team or by Rajah & Tann. Investigations were continuing and would be finished quickly, he said.

Wirecard, founded in 1999, has been a perennial target for speculative short sellers - market players who seek to profit from falls in a company's share price - who have questioned its accounting methods and rapid international expansion.

Source: Reuters/cna/na

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