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Wirecard SG said to be looking for buyer

Wirecard SG said to be looking for buyer

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 22 Dec 2020
Author: Joyce Lim

Wirecard SG had been providing payment processing services to about 1,900 companies in Singapore before MAS ordered the firm to stop its payment services operations on Sept 30.

Wirecard Singapore has lost a third of its staff, two months after the authorities here forced the digital payments company to cease its core business activities amid an investigation, The Straits Times has learnt.

At its peak, the company employed more than 350 people at its office on the 14th floor of Mapletree Business City, where the call centre, sales deployment team, regional commercial team and project management office are located.

In October, Wirecard told The Straits Times it had 250 staff here - including 180 locals.

Industry sources told ST that those who left the company held roles in IT and relationship management. Singapore is home to Wirecard's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Pasir Panjang.

The remaining workforce is working from home and has been lending support to Wirecard's businesses in Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, ST understands the firm is looking for a buyer, with at least one party showing interest in acquiring part of Wirecard's business in Singapore.

A spokesman for Wirecard SG declined comment except to say it is complying with Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) directives, adding: "There have been no redundancies to date."

Wirecard SG had been providing payment processing services to about 1,900 companies in Singapore before MAS ordered the firm to stop its payment services operations on Sept 30.

MAS also directed the firm to return all customers' funds within two weeks.

The shutdown of its payment services affected thousands of consumers, who were unable to make online or credit card payments with merchants on Wirecard SG platforms.

M1, which has more than two million customers in Singapore, had its monthly recurring payment option disrupted. Payment services for Safra and Starbucks were also disrupted.

Affected merchants were unable to accept credit card payments from consumers until they made arrangements with new service providers.

Parent company Wirecard AG filed for insolvency in Germany in June after admitting that €1.9 billion (S$3.1 billion) in cash was missing from its accounts.

The company's former chief executive Markus Braun and several other top executives have been arrested on fraud charges.

Braun, who faces fraud and embezzlement charges, was temporarily released from jail last month to attend an inquiry by lawmakers, but he declined to answer more than 50 questions and denied any wrongdoing.

German prosecutors also launched a probe into Ernst & Young's audit of Wirecard AG earlier this month, after an accounting watchdog filed a report accusing the firm of criminality in its work for the failed payments company.

Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), which deals with white-collar crime, has been looking into Wirecard's operations here since February last year, after reports by the Financial Times raised allegations of fraud at its office in Singapore.

The CAD is also investigating a Singapore company, Citadelle Corporate Services, in relation to Wirecard's accounting scandal.

Citadelle director R. Shanmugaratnam is facing a total of 14 charges from the Singapore authorities, involving about €1.2 billion.

The charges include 11 counts of falsifying letters to various Wirecard-related entities for which Citadelle allegedly held millions of euros in escrow accounts, when the accounts either did not hold such sums or were not held by Citadelle.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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