Wirecard Scandal: Marsalek Confidant Arrested in Singapore

PeopleOther ♦ Published: September 1, 2021; 17:54 ♦ (Vindobona)

A close confidant of the Austrian-born former Wirecard board member Jan Marsalek, who is wanted on an international arrest warrant, has been arrested in Singapore. Briton Henry O'Sullivan is considered a close confidant of Marsalek and plays an alleged key figure in the multi-billion Wirecard fraud scandal.

Wanted poster of the police headquarters Munich for the search of Jan Marsalek. / Picture: © Polizeipräsidium München (Munich Police Department)

Jan Marsalek and others are under investigation for, among other things, suspected fraud in the billions.

Wirecard had filed for insolvency in June 2020. The payment service provider is alleged to have falsified its balance sheets for years. A total of about 3 billion euros in escrow accounts in Asia can no longer be found. 

A confidant of Marsalek has been arrested in Singapore, according to a report in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper.

As the newspaper reported on Wednesday, he is wanted for aiding and abetting the embezzlement of Wirecard assets.

The 46-year-old Briton Henry O'Sullivan is said to have helped Marsalek to set aside high sums of millions.

The public prosecutor's office and other authorities have been after O'Sullivan for a long time. O'Sullivan is under investigation for aiding and abetting the misappropriation of Wirecard assets. The Munich investigators consider O'Sullivan to be a key figure in the Wirecard case, and they have placed him at the top of a long list of suspects. O'Sullivan is alleged to have faked transactions in Asia that never existed, according to the public prosecutor's office.

According to the "Süddeutsche Zeitung", police in Singapore arrested Henry O'Sullivan as early as Monday. On Wednesday, he was then heard by a district court via video, as reported by the daily newspaper The Straits Times. According to the report, O'Sullivan has already been charged with aiding and abetting the forgery of a document.

O'Sullivan is alleged to have instigated the Singapore-based company Citadelle in 2016 to forge a balance confirmation. That document, in turn, allegedly misrepresented Wirecard assets in a purported escrow account that did not exist.

According to The Straits Times, O'Sullivan's lawyer in Singapore on Wednesday demanded that his client be released on bail. O'Sullivan had been assisting authorities with the investigation, he said. The decision on release was postponed until Sept. 8. The "Süddeutsche Zeitung" tried in vain to reach O'Sullivan's lawyer for comment.

According to investigators' findings, Marsalek and his associates in Singapore faked millions in assets in trust accounts for years through the Citadelle company there. Legal proceedings are already underway against the Citadelle boss in Singapore, and he faces a prison sentence.

Most recently, the alleged trust accounts at Wirecard had been moved to the Philippines, where the deception was exposed in mid-2020. Wirecard went bankrupt, Marsalek went into hiding, and longtime Group CEO Markus Braun, who denies all allegations, was remanded in custody.

For the foreseeable indictment of Braun and other defendants, it could be significant whether O'Sullivan comments on the Wirecard case. Or whether, as a defendant, he prefers to remain silent.

It remains to be seen whether the accusations made against O'Sullivan are true. The presumption of innocence applies until a final conviction is reached.

About Wirecard

Wirecard AG, headquartered in Aschheim, Germany, is an insolvent listed payment processor and financial services provider.

Wirecard offered solutions for electronic payments, risk management as well as issuing and accepting credit cards.

The subsidiary Wirecard Bank AG holds a German banking license.

On June 25, 2020, Wirecard filed for insolvency after it became known that several billion euros were missing. Longtime CEO Markus Braun resigned and was later arrested.

Austrian-born former COO Jan Marsalek was fired, went into hiding and is wanted by German police on an international arrest warrant for fraud.

Wirecard's insolvency triggered a political scandal across Germany.

The structure of German financial market supervision was criticized in many quarters as outdated and inadequate. In particular, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority was accused of incompetence and undue proximity to Wirecard executives.

A Wirecard investigation committee exists in the 19th German Bundestag.

As a result of the scandal, the German government announced reforms to the relevant supervisory authorities in February 2021.

Süddeutschen Zeitung