Wirecard business partner reported dead in Philippines

Christopher Bauer, the owner of key Wirecard partner PayEasy Solutions, was reported dead in the Philippines less than two weeks ago.

The 44-year-old German’s company was responsible for one of Wirecard’s biggest sources of profit.

Bauer, who is also a former Wirecard executive, was being investigated since June alongside his wife Belinda following the collapse of the German fintech.

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Bauer’s Manila-based payments processor accounted for €291.4 million of Wirecard’s reported revenue of €2 billion in 2018

Filipino authorities are trying to confirm whether this recently registered death was in fact that of Bauer’s.

The Philippines’ Justice Secretary, Menardo Guevarra, says his office is trying to secure a certificate for the death of Bauer, recorded at the end of last month on Manila’s registry.

He said the country needs “to determine first if the deceased person is the same person subject of the ongoing investigation”.

Who is Bauer?

Bauer’s Manila-based payments processor accounted for €291.4 million of Wirecard’s reported revenue of €2 billion in 2018. It also made up a fifth of the fintech’s operating profit.

He told auditors at KPMG that his company specialised payments processing for “high-risk clients” in online gaming, gambling and porn.

According to the Financial Times, Bauer met fugitive former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek in Manila as recently as March.

Marsalek disappeared in late June following Wirecard’s collapse. Some believe the CEO is now hiding out in Russia.

Wirecard’s collapse

After Wirecard’s balance sheet unveiled a €1.9 billion black hole, the German fintech slipped into insolvency.

This €1.9 billion was supposedly held in escrow accounts in the Philippines, but later it came to light that this money did not exist.

Outsourced operations in Asia, including Bauer’s PayEasy, were therefore misrepresented to Wirecard’s investors.

Bauer’s dealings with Wirecard

Bauer owned PayEasy as of 2017, according to public filings. He also represented a second Wirecard partner, Centurion Online Payment International.

In 2015, Bauer “reportedly received an inward remittance from Wirecard Asia for consultancy services rendered”, the Philippines’ Justice Secretary said.

By the end of last year, Wirecard had also granted €260 million in loans to PayEasy.

Bauer also owned Froehlich Tours, a bus and coach rental service which shares an office with PayEasy in Manila.

Bauer’s death

On 1 August, Bauer’s family published a death notice in a German newspaper in Hesse.

Munich prosecutors probing Wirecard told the FT that they had not received any official notice about Bauer’s death.

The civil registry has not commented on cause of death. It’s understood that a guard at the Bauers’ gated community said he died of a heart attack.

Read next: EPA critiques FCA approach to Wirecard suspension

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