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Wirecard business partner reported dead in Philippines

A German businessman responsible for one of Wirecard’s biggest sources of reported profits was reported dead a month after Philippine authorities announced he was being investigated into the collapse of the payment company.

The death of Christopher Bauer, 44, was reported to a Manila civil registry last week. In June, Philippine authorities said they were investigating he and his wife, Belinda Bauer, in an investigation involving Wirecard’s partner companies.

The Bauers were the owners of PayEasy Solutions, a Manila-based payment processor that was a key business partner for Wirecard, accounting for € 291.4 million of the German payment group’s reported revenue of € 2 billion. in 2018 and more than a fifth of its operating profit. .

Wirecard collapsed in June after saying that € 1.9 billion allegedly held in escrow accounts in the Philippines did not exist. He also revealed that his outsourced activities in Asia, which included PayEasy, had been misrepresented to investors and that he was examining “whether, how and to what extent these activities were actually carried out for the benefit of society.”

Menardo Guevarra, the Philippines’ justice secretary, told the Financial Times he had to “first determine whether the deceased person is the same person being investigated.” He would decide whether a further investigation into Mr Bauer’s reported death was needed after obtaining a copy of the death certificate.

The Bauers – identified in a Financial Times survey last year – held PayEasy from 2017, according to public filings, and represented Centurion Online Payment International, a second corporate partner, in interactions with Wirecard.

Mr. Bauer in 2015 “allegedly received a transfer of funds from Wirecard Asia for advisory services rendered,” Guevarra said without disclosing an amount.

A document seen by the Financial Times shows that Wirecard at the end of last year had also granted 260 million euros in loans to PayEasy.

Mr Bauer, who told KPMG auditors that he was a Wirecard employee before joining PayEasy around 12 years ago, also owned Froehlich Tours, a bus and coach rental company that shares an office with PayEasy in Manila.

At a meeting in Manila in March, Mr Bauer and former fugitive Wirecard COO Jan Marsalek briefed KPMG and EY on PayEasy’s activities, telling auditors the company specializes in processing payments for “high-risk customers” in online gambling, gambling and pornography, according to a special audit by KPMG.

Philippine authorities are currently investigating how immigration records were fabricated to show Mr. Marsalek arriving in the country in June and leaving for China the next day. CCTV footage did not show such an arrival.

On July 27, Ms Bauer posted an image of a black ribbon to Facebook, while her daughter posted a photo of an urn bearing her father’s name two days later. On August 1, Mr Bauer’s family published a death notice in a regional newspaper in Hesse, Germany, where his parents live. Mr Bauer’s parents declined to comment. Mr. Bauer’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Munich prosecutors, who are leading the criminal investigation into Wirecard in Germany, said they had not received any official notification regarding Mr Bauer’s death. They declined to comment on whether an arrest warrant had been issued against him.

The cause of Mr Bauer’s death remains uncertain. The civil registry declined to comment, citing the data protection law. A guard from the Bauers gated community said he died of a heart attack.

A group of men playing cards outside the Bauers’ house in Manila said the widow could not comment and suggested speaking to her lawyer, whose contact details they declined to release.

The men stood near the gate to the property, which was branded with the logo of a local motorcycle club called Iron Cross Sons, whose website features scantily clad women with Nazi-themed clothing.

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