April 18, 2021

A Singapore businessman has been charged with committing nearly $1 billion in Wirecard fraud, report says

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FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim near Munich, Germany April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
The headquarters of Wirecard AG near Munich.

  • A Singapore businessman linked to bankrupt German online payments firm Wirecard is facing 11 charges for falsely claiming he held nearly $1 billion in multiple accounts, Bloomberg reported.
  • R. Shanmugaratnam, a director at a local accounting firm, claimed he held millions of euros in multiple escrow accounts on behalf of the group, according to charge sheets seen by Bloomberg.
  • The latest accusations follow six other charges of falsifying letters that misrepresented balances of about 393 million euros ($461 million) held by his company, Citadelle.
  • Shanmugaratnam could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine for each charge if convicted, according to the Financial Times.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Singapore businessman is faced with 11 charges for falsely claiming he held about $1 billion on behalf of bankrupt German fintech Wirecard, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

R. Shanmugaratnam, accused of sending false documentation to Wirecard, is a director of a local accounting firm called Citadelle Corporate Services.

His suspected role in a multi-year fraud led to his being charged with five counts of “willfully and with intent to defraud” fabricating letters to Wirecard subsidiaries — Wirecard UK & Ireland and Cardsystems Middle East — Bloomberg said, citing charge sheets filed on Thursday.

The accounts did not actually hold a balance in that amount.

According to the charges, the businessman falsely claimed that he held nearly 378 million euros ($443 million) in multiple escrow accounts as of December 2016. In a fifth account, he claimed he had about 97.5 million euros (114 million).

The 54-year-old businessman is the first person to have been charged with falsification of accounts in the Wirecard-related scandal.

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The latest accusations come after six other charges of falsifying letters that misrepresented balances of about 393 million euros ($461 million) held by his company, Bloomberg said. In all, the 11 charges amount to about 868 million euros ($1 billion), which equates to roughly half the amount that Wirecard said was “missing” from its balance sheet.

His case will be heard by the state court again on November 26, the news agency reported.

Shanmugaratnam could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine for each charge if he is convicted, the Financial Times said.

Wirecard filed for bankruptcy in June while battling a huge accountancy scandal that triggered a global investigation into the firm’s dealings. The German company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters are located in Singapore, accounting for about 45% of its revenue in 2018.

Here’s how Wirecard went from analyst darling to a $2.2 billion accounting scandal – and cost SoftBank hundreds of millions in the process.

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