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Mark Tolentino: a criminal lawyer involved in Wirecard fraud

One week before the Wirecard launch in June 2020, the search for 1.9bn coins seems to be growing.

The author of the EY payroll team wanted a signal that Wirecard claims to be its money to two Philippine lenders, the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and BDO Unibank.

The hard evidence that the money was there is a major barrier between the Wirecard and the white money from EY, which could have saved the group during its siege.

As shareholders await the signing of the annual Wirecard results, chief executive officer Jan Marsalek held a private conversation with an email by Mark Tolentino, the name of a Manila lawyer who the German company told EY as its trustee in the Philippines, is watching. look for money in local banks instead.

On June 17 2020, an e-mail from the account stated: “I am currently on my way to BPI headquarters. . .[and am] by phone and bank. ”

Marsalek resumed 24 hours later: “To be honest, what is happening here is so confusing! Please call me! ”

Lawyer, businessman, first aide to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the unexpected YouTube star, Tolentino is refusing to become a Wirecard trustee.

His office in Manila continues as a studio, where he offers advice on popular law to get a sign for him. The California company offers up to 100,000 subscribers.

A few days after Marsalek’s emails, Wirecard was charged to settle the debt after revealing that € 1.9bn in cash was missing. Corporate fraud is now being investigated by government officials in Munich and in the midst of an investigation by a German parliament.

Opponents believe Marsalek was one of the builders, claiming his emails were written knowing that € 1.9bn was just an estimate. A prosecutor in Marsalek declined to comment.

‘Email address’

The exchange of emails, provided by a Wirecard administrator during a parliamentary inquiry and reviewed by the Financial Times, shows how the Philippines was suddenly shocked by the death of a company that for years was promoted to be the most successful in Germany.

He also asks questions about Tolentino. When FT went to Tolentino’s headquarters in Manila in late October, he described himself as a “victim” of Wirecard. When he exchanged emails with Marsalek, he said: “It’s the first time I’ve seen them. This is not my email.”

A video posted on its YouTube page, however, the email, attorney@marktolentinolaw.co, is available in exchange for Marsalek. Tolentino did not respond to a request for comment on the e-mail.

The only time he spoke to FT after the Wirecard failure last year, Tolentino said he was “Not a Wirecard Trustee”, “did not sign any documents” with the group and accused the scandal company of “stealing”.

This account is subject to a KPMG review of Wirecard. The findings, published in April 2020, boosted EY’s pressure to find irrefutable evidence that € 1.9bn was real.

The review, which has not been published but has been reviewed by FT, describes a meeting at Tolentino’s office in March 2020 with representatives of KPMG, EY and Wirecard where the lawyer claims his company opened bank accounts in BPI and BDO instead of the pay group.

Tolentino told FT that he met German-speaking “prospective customers” – including a man who described him as “the boss” and people he thought were his accountants – in February or March 2020 after queuing outside his office. He declined to comment, citing the possibility of a trial.

From seafood to the Covid vaccine

Nearly a year after the fall of the Wirecard, Tolentino is developing its own unique experience.

“I’m a 20% lawyer and 80% a businessman,” Tolentino told FT in his office. His activities include exporting seafood and what he said is the production of handmade products.

He recently became the CEO of MKG Universal Drugs Trading, which is said to be the sole proprietor of the Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine business in the Philippines once the jab obtains the required license.

The vaccine sparked controversy after Duterte’s paramedics received a dose last year from a cross. smuggling into the country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte received the Sinopharm vaccine earlier this month. Mark Tolentino caught in a hurricane over a jab made in China © King Rodriguez / Malacanang Presidential Photographer Division via Reuters

Furore appears to have done nothing to tackle Tolentino’s political ambitions, which are aimed at a new organization affiliated with Manny Pacquiao, the country’s world-famous boxing champion.

Instead as a lawyer where Tolentino appears in the final stages, the tedious months of Wirecard.

By the end of 2019, it is estimated that € 1.9bn is believed to have been in the accounts at OCBC, Singapore’s second largest bank, and the local company, Citadelle Corporate Services, which looks like a trustee and provides EY with guarantees that the money was there.

Change of trust

According to the end of the special investigation, Tolentino told KPMG that in November 2019 he signed a contract with Citadelle to transfer Wirecard trustees to him. The Citadelle advised him to pay the bill, the appendix says.

Citadelle superintendent R Shanmugaratnam was falsely accused of bans in Singapore and has yet to respond. Through his lawyer he refused to respond, based on what they called him.

OCBC had no banking relationship with Wirecard and Citadelle had no subscription account, according to a person familiar with the matter. OCBC declined to comment.

In March 2020, the BDO and BPI were sent confirmation requests containing a letter from the “MK Tolentino Law Office”, according to documents obtained by FT.

After being shown the documents, Tolentino declined to comment if his law firm had sent them, but insisted that their signature matched his own. “There is no legal basis as it is a test paper,” Tolentino said. “That is just a request [for documents]. ”

Following the request, EY received what appears to be confirmation that € 1.9bn was in the banks, according to a census report from the Big Four company FT saw.

But by June, with KPMG’s special review increasing pressure, EY sought evidence from Philippine banks only that the funds were available. On June 15, the EY received its response: The BDO and BPI said earlier assurances that the funds were “false”.

Fight the battles with the banks

An email exchange with Marsalek over the next few days and including one from the “Tolentino” account that seems to indicate a strong effort is underway to address the issue.

A former member of the BPI legal team has been contacted and has said the banking committee will launch an employee inquiry who spoke with EY, according to one email. The email also states that a meeting with a BDO board member was set up.

The BDO informed FT that it had no notice of the emails or any meetings that were allegedly “allegedly being held” by a board member. They and BPI, who did not respond to a request for comment, have previously stated that they have no relationship with Wirecard.

Philippines Islands branch bank in Manila

Bank of the Philippines Islands and BDO Unibank says previous evidence for € 1.9bn existence was ‘fraudulent’ © Ivan Vdovin / Alamy

Shortly after the wirecard collapsed, Philippine authorities launched a joint investigation with German allies. Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra told FT last year that Tolentino had been summoned “to shed light” on the matter. Tolentino and banks are also involved in the legal battles.

The € 1.9bn acquisition was not the only Wirecard agreement in the Philippines. He was at the home of a paid professor, PayEasy Advice, which was run by a former Wirecard employee and was later exposed as fraud.

Political goals

Tolentino is no stranger to public business. He was accepted by Duterte – a fellow alma mater and relationship student – when he ran for mayor in 2016, and was lost, in the city of Mindanao, on the southern island of both men. Most recently, he spent a short time as assistant secretary in the Department of Transport.

As authorities investigate the collapse of the Wirecard, Tolentino has been hit by a hurricane over the Sinopharm vaccine. He told FT that government officials had interrogated him about smuggling and inspecting the stocks of his fishing company, but had found nothing. He said, it was “the destruction of [his] time ”.

Duterte himself apologized this month for receiving an illegal Sinopharm jab from a special group that Beijing agreed to “use with compassion”.

While Covid could be a hot topic for Philippine politicians next year, Tolentino wants to take part. “Political beliefs” is the title of one of its three Facebook pages, along with legal rights and “jokes”.

The attorney general said he should be at the top of the list of nominees for politicians linked to Pacquiao, who is known as a running mate to represent the president next year.

A well-known boxing victory could see Tolentino win a seat in the House of Representatives.


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