Wirecard-linked British businessman charged in Singapore over fake letter

Financial fraud updates

A British businessman who advised Wirecard in Asia has been arrested and charged in Singapore for allegedly instructing another company linked to the collapsed German payments group to forge a letter.

Henry O’Sullivan, 46, allegedly instructed local firm Citadelle Corporate Services to falsify a document, according to a charge sheet seen by the Financial Times. 

O’Sullivan, who was arrested on August 30 and appeared in court on Wednesday on charges of abetment, asked R Shanmugaratnam, Citadelle’s Singaporean director, to issue a letter from Citadelle to Dubai-based Wirecard subsidiary Cardsystems Middle East FZ, according to the charge sheet.

The letter said there was a balance of €86.4m in an escrow account held by Citadelle as of December 2016, “when in fact Citadelle did not maintain the said account,” according to the charge sheet. Authorities have not said who was supposed to own the funds in the escrow account.

If convicted, O’Sullivan faces up to 10 years in jail, a fine, or both. The businessman’s lawyer declined to comment.

The Briton is suspected of having multiple ties to Wirecard, the German payments group that collapsed in June last year after disclosing a €1.9bn hole in its balance sheet, in one of the largest accounting frauds in the country’s history.

O’Sullivan entered at least one partnership with the company in Asia and played a key role in some of the German group’s deals, according to documents seen by the FT. A hunting enthusiast and prolific dealmaker, he also had ties to Jan Marsalek, Wirecard’s former chief operating officer and now a fugitive.

Companies associated with O’Sullivan received large loans from Wirecard. Loan documents by Wirecard Bank describe O’Sullivan as “personally known to Wirecard executives and of impeccable integrity”, according to the appendix of KPMG’s forensic audit into Wirecard.

The Briton’s case has been adjourned to September 8 and the judge ordered he be remanded for one week at the Central Police Division in Singapore.

He is the second person to be charged in Singapore in connection with the Wirecard scandal. The city state has charged Shanmugaratnam with 14 counts of falsification of accounts.

The 55-year-old Singaporean allegedly issued 14 letters from Citadelle to Wirecard, its subsidiaries and an audit firm that “falsely represented that Citadelle held large sums of money in its escrow accounts at various points in time between 2015 and 2017, when Citadelle actually did not maintain such accounts or did not hold such balances in its accounts”, according to a statement by the Singapore police.

Shanmugaratnam’s pre-trial conference is scheduled for September 23. He has yet to submit a plea. His lawyer declined to comment on the accusations linked to O’Sullivan.

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