Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat executive director Mel Georgie Racela (File photo)

MANILA – Fifty-seven individuals, including foreigners, are now considered as persons of interest in connection to the investigation on the USD2.1 billion missing Wirecard AG funds, an official of the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Secretariat said.

During a virtual briefing hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Global Media Affairs via Zoom Friday, AMLC Secretariat executive director Mel Georgie Racela did not indicate how many of the 57 persons of interest are foreigners but said AMLC is now in close coordination with German authorities regarding the case.

“It is now up to them to further investigate their citizens and companies,” he said.

Racela said AMLC officials are also waiting for more information on the results of investigations by the German authorities to know whether they have filed cases against their citizens.

“We also need evidences and, at least equations, that these foreigners are engaged in fraudulent activities. Without a predicate offense we cannot proceed with our money laundering case against these foreigners,” he said.

As regards Filipinos who are being investigated on the same issue, Racela said two bank officers allegedly forged some documents and some government officials who allegedly falsified travel documents of former Wirecard chief operating officer Jan Marsalek.

Earlier reports said these bank officers are from the Sy-led BDO Unibank Inc. and Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). These banks, however, have denied involvement in the missing funds.

Racela reiterated their earlier findings that none of the missing funds entered the domestic financial system.

He said AMLC has submitted its reports to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and also building up cases against several other individuals.

Wirecard reportedly has a subsidiary in the Philippines that is involved in acquisition of third-party transactions and Racela said results of their investigation showed that these companies are not involved in the multi-billion fraud.

He, however, did not name the firms.

He said these domestic companies are registered with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and “have shown transparency and willingness to cooperate”.

“So it’s not something that should give us or ask us to press the panic button. As long as they are here we can always proceed with our investigation,” he said, citing that “we have not established any connection”. (PNA)