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Singapore Charges Director in Its First Wirecard-Linked Case

(Bloomberg) — Singapore has accused a director of a local accounting firm of falsifying documents, making its first charges in relation to the scandal surrounding disgraced German payments company Wirecard AG.

R. Shanmugaratnam, a director of Citadelle Corporate Services Pte, was charged with “wilfully and with intent to defraud” falsifying letters to Wirecard, stating that the Singapore firm held tens of millions in euros in escrow accounts, according to charge sheets filed last month and seen by Bloomberg News.

The 54-year-old Singaporean is the first person to be indicted in the city-state over the spectacular collapse of Wirecard, a scandal which has reverberated across the world. The German digital-payments company filed for insolvency in June after saying that 1.9 billion euros ($2.3 billion) previously reported as assets didn’t exist.

The first of the four charges against Shanmugaratnam says that in March 2017, he falsely stated that there was a balance of 177.5 million euros held by Citadelle in an escrow account on Dec. 31, 2016. The other three charges say that in March 2016, he misrepresented that there was 66.4 million euros, 47 million euros and 30 million euros held by Citadelle in three escrow accounts on Dec. 31, 2015.

Shanmugaratnam’s lawyer, N. Sreenivasan, declined to comment.

The Wirecard scandal has continued to widen and now threatens to engulf top politicians, regulators and auditors in Germany. Two Philippine banks have said that rogue employees falsified documents that indicated they held some Wirecard funds, though the central bank denied that any of the German firm’s money had entered the country.

Former Wirecard Chief Executive Officer Markus Braun was re-arrested last month as German prosecutors said the company knew about massive losses as early as 2015.

In June, Singapore financial regulators said they are working with the local police to scrutinze aspects of the Wirecard case. Last year, Singapore police raided Wirecard’s local offices after an employee in the city-state alleged that a member of the company’s finance team engaged in accounting breaches.

Singapore is home to Wirecard’s Asia-Pacific headquarters and the company has been expanding aggressively in the region.

Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore said last month they launched a joint investigation into Citadelle and Senjo Group Pte and its subsidiaries. They said the investigation relates to suspected falsification of accounts and carrying on a trust business without a license.

According to records filed with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Citadelle provides accounting and auditing services, including taxation advice.

Shanmugaratnam is out on bail of S$150,000 ($110,000). If convicted, he could face a jail term of as long as 10 years for each charge.

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