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German authorities looking to arrest sacked Wirecard chief operating officer

Wirecard HQ in Aschheim near Munich, southern Germany. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images
Wirecard HQ in Aschheim near Munich, southern Germany. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

German prosecutors are poised to issue an arrest warrant for the recently sacked chief operating officer of Wirecard (WDI.DE), according to business daily Handelsblatt.

Jan Marsalek was suspended from his post as COO last week and then dismissed on Monday (22 June) after Wirecard said that €1.9bn (£1.7bn, $2.1bn) was missing from its balance sheets – and auditor EY refused to sign off on the company’s 2019 accounts.

Marsalek’s current whereabouts are unclear, however. Philippines justice minister Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday that Marsalek, who had also been in charge of the Asian business at the German payments provider, may be in the country.


Guevarra said Marsalek had come to the Philippines on 3 March for two days, and that there was “some evidence that he recently returned and may still be here.”

The Munich prosecutor's office has so far declined to comment on the arrest warrant.

After claiming last week that €1.9bn had gone missing from escrow accounts in the Philippines, and that it may have been the victim of “considerable fraud,” Wirecard then said "there is a prevailing likelihood that the bank trust account balances in the amount of €1.9bn do not exist."

Over the weekend, banks in the Philippines said documents produced by Wirecard appeared to be false, and the Philippines central bank also said the money had never entered its financial system.

Guevarra said he has instructed the National Bureau of Investigation to work with the anti-money laundering council to investigate the case.

The Munich prosecutor’s office arrested Wirecard’s former chief executive Markus Braun on Monday (22 June), freeing him on Tuesday (23 June) on a €5m bail.

READ MORE: Grab puts partnership with scandal-hit Wirecard on hold

Both Marsalek and Braun are under suspicion of market manipulation by inflating the company’s financials.

The company’s survival is now hanging in the balance, with big clients nervously watching what is in store for Wirecard in the coming days.

Uber rival Grab announced on Wednesday it was putting its relationship with the payments provider on ice until further notice, and digital bank Revolut is migrating its customers away from Wirecard to another provider.

A new member of the German 30-company DAX since 2018, Wirecard has seen its value nearly wiped out since last week.