If questions about the integrity of Wirecard AG’s accounting in its crucial Asian operations are ever to be resolved, Singapore regulators will need to step back and take a long, hard look at James Henry O’Sullivan’s relationship to the Aschheim, Germany–based company. Prosecutors at Singapore’s Consumer Affairs Department have been investigating Wirecard’s fast-growing Asian division, claiming in a March 8 filing that employees in its Singapore office orchestrated a complex, multiyear scheme to inflate the company’s revenue.
Few companies can explain their meteoric growth as alluringly as Wirecard AG. In one preferred narrative, Wirecard presents as Europe’s leading financial technology innovator, a globe-spanning developer of white label code and applications that remove the friction from electronic payments. And in another, it’s a nimble bank, steadily generating low-risk revenue through the sale of integrated banking and credit-card processing services to businesses, and prepaid credit-cards to consumers.
After the Financial Times published a pair of whistleblower-driven exposés that suggested some of Wirecard’s parabolic growth in the Asia-Pacific region resulted from a purported multiyear revenue inflation scheme, anyone wanting to better understand the German payments company’s situation would do well to “follow the money.”