June 29, 2020 / 2:35 PM / a month ago

Singapore central bank says it is working with police investigating Wirecard

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

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s central bank is working with the city-state’s police to scrutinise collapsed German payments firm Wirecard’s local operations, it said on Monday, adding that local authorities had also reached out to foreign agencies.

Wirecard filed for insolvency last week owing creditors almost $4 billion after disclosing a 1.9 billion euro ($2.14 billion) hole in its accounts that its auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.

Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), the police unit that deals with white-collar crime, had begun criminal investigations into Wirecard’s Singapore operations in February 2019.

“In view of recent developments in Wirecard AG, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) are collaborating with CAD to scrutinise other possible aspects of the case,” the MAS said in a statement late on Monday.

It said that due to the cross-border nature of some of the transactions, Singapore authorities had contacted foreign agencies for further information and were also prepared to assist in their investigations.

The Philippines’ anti-money laundering agency said on Monday that it would conduct a “swift and thorough” investigation into Wirecard. The Southeast Asian country became involved after Wirecard initially claimed it kept the $2.1 billion in two Philippine banks.

Just before Wirecard’s implosion, the MAS said it had asked Wirecard’s domestic entities to ensure that they keep customer funds arising from their local payment processing activities in the country’s banks.

On Monday the MAS said it was also in touch with relevant financial institutions in the city-state to determine if there had been any abuse of Singapore’s financial system for illicit purposes.

“We will take firm action if we find evidence of criminal behaviour or serious lapses in anti-money laundering controls,” it said.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan, Anshuman Daga and John Geddie in Singapore; Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey

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