Filipino lawyer allegedly linked to Wirecard scandal says nothing irregular in opening bank accounts

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Atty. Mark Tolentino addresses his involvement in the Wirecard scandal through a statement from his lawyer

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) – A lawyer said to be transacting on behalf of German firm Wirecard AG refuted the claims of BDO Unibank and the Bank of the Philippine Islands, saying he opened and maintained foreign currency accounts with the two banks. 

M.K. Tolentino Law & Business Consultancy Office, through its legal counsel Dennis Manalo, said Monday night that they opened and maintained foreign currency deposit accounts with the two lenders. MKT Law, however, did not explicitly name embattled German payments company Wirecard as the client in question, citing absolute confidentiality required by the Foreign Currency Deposit Act.

The law firm is owned by Mark Kristopher Tolentino, a former assistant secretary for the Department of Transportation who was sacked by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018. 

His camp denied knowing or participating "in any alleged irregularity" involving Wirecard's money based on news reports, against the claims of BDO and BPI that these accounts do not exist.

RELATED: Missing $2.1B Wirecard cash did not enter PH financial system — BSP

"All services rendered by MKT Law, including the opening and maintenance of Philippine deposit accounts for foreign clients, are above board and performed with utmost compliance with Philippine laws and regulations," Manalo said on behalf of the law office.

BDO and BPI earlier said that Wirecard was not their client, while the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the missing $2.1 billion (about P107 billion) cash supposedly held in trust by the two banks never entered the local financial system.

Both lenders said they were presented fake documents which claimed the existence of trust accounts for Wirecard. The fintech company has admitted that the money in question may not exist at all.

Manalo added that MKT Law is also doing its own investigation to establish the facts of the case, adding they have demanded BDO and BPI to confirm the accounts.

Meanwhile, the central bank is telling banks to reassess their hiring procedures to protect against employees who may commit fraud or other wrongdoing while in office.

"The BSP will be engaging the banking industry to enjoin them on the proper hiring process and know-your-client procedure," BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a Tuesday briefing.

BDO and BPI are investigating at least one employee each for their supposed hand in issuing documents that vetted Wirecard's money, which the banks said were eventually discovered as forged. BDO fired a marketing officer while BPI has suspended one of its assistant managers over the case.