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Singaporean linked to Wirecard scandal slapped with five more charges

A SINGAPOREAN man now faces a total of 11 charges in relation to scandal-hit German payments firm Wirecard, after an additional five charges were tendered.

R Shanmugaratnam, a director of Citadelle Corporate Services, was slapped with five charges on Wednesday for allegedly faking five more letters in early 2017 stating bogus balances held in his company's accounts.

Citadelle is one of two companies the Singapore authorities are investigating.

The latest charges also come as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has ordered Wirecard entities in Singapore to stop their payment services in the city-state.

According to charge sheets, Shanmugaratnam is accused of falsifying two letters from Citadelle to Wirecard UK & Ireland Ltd, first misrepresenting in February 2017 that Citadelle held in an escrow account a 97.5 million euros (S$156.2 million) balance as at Nov 30, 2016, and then again in March 2017 that there was a balance of about 177.5 million euros in the same account as at Dec 31, 2016.

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However, the account did not in fact hold such balances, the charge sheets stated.

In March 2017, he also allegedly faked three letters from Citadelle - one to Wirecard AG and two to Cardsystems Middle East FZ LLC - stating that his company held amounts ranging from 30 million euros to nearly 86.4 million euros as at Dec 31, 2016 in three escrow accounts.

But Citadelle did not actually maintain those three accounts, according to Wednesday's charge sheets.

These offences are all punishable under Section 477A of the Penal Code.

A few months ago, the 54-year-old was first accused of falsifying four letters that misrepresented his company's balances in accounts. He later faced two more similar charges in August.

Citadelle has reportedly handled money for Wirecard in a trustee capacity. However, it is not licensed to provide such services in Singapore, and is not supervised by MAS. The regulator has placed Citadelle on the Investor Alert List on its website.

Meanwhile, Wirecard Singapore said in a press statement on Thursday that while it "regrets" the regulator's latest directive, it intends to comply with all aspects of MAS's directions.

Accordingly, Wirecard will cease regulated payment services in Singapore and return all customer funds it holds.

The cessation of regulated payment services will affect all card payments at merchants using its payment platform in Singapore, as well as the use of prepaid cards issued, the company said.

"We will work with MAS to minimise disruption to payment services. Our teams, including call centre and relationship managers, are here to support should any of our merchants require assistance or have further questions," Wirecard noted in its statement.

The regulator's latest directive may prompt uncertainty over the scale of payment disruption to come, given that thousands of merchants in the Republic are users of Wirecard's payment terminals.

That being said, some merchants had already been switching to the beleaguered fintech's competitors, spooked by the downfall of the parent company, The Business Times reported earlier.

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