Wirecard Hunting: Chasing former COO Jan Marsalek and James Henry O’Sullivan
Hollywood and Wall Street in Germany. In the German media, the work and disappearance of the Austrian Jan Marsalek has been a central topic in the last few days. As Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Wirecard, Marsalek is said to have been the person actually responsible for the day-to-day business. The 40-year-old manager is said to be a mystery. He has no formal education, no high school diploma, and no university degree. He is said to have started his career at the age of 20 and to have built Wirecard‘s spider’s nest in recent years.
The British payment entrepreneur and investor James Henry O’Sullivan was just recently exposed by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) as an important partner in the establishment of this Wirecard spider network. This man, who was born in 1974, is likely to be behind numerous Wirecard transactions as well as some notorious Third-Party Acquirers (TPA). O’Sullivan is said to have lived and worked in Singapore for many years and is considered a payment expert. Marsalek and O’Sullivan have apparently been working together for about a decade. And both have worked for Wirecard. For example, also on the strange “Mauritius Deal.“
In September 2015, the Mauritius-based Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A acquired the Indian payment processor Hermes Tickets for €37 million. Only six months later, the fund sold Hermes Tickets to Wirecard for €230 million and, additionally, a €110 million performance bonuses to be paid over three years. Thus the total price amounted to 340 million euros. The value of Hermes tickets thus increased almost tenfold within almost 6 months. Believable? We don’t think so.
The sellers of Hermes Tickets, the two Indian brothers Ramu Ramasamy and Palaniyapan Ramasamy, therefore sued Wirecard and the alleged masterminds of the transaction – Jan Marsalek and James Henry O’Sullivan. They claim that both had masterminded the transaction to persuade the brothers to sell their company under false pretenses and thus exposed them to reputational and economic harm.
It is believed that O’Sullivan was indeed one of the beneficial owners of the Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A.
O’Sullivan, in turn, is linked to David Vanrenen, a South Africa-born digital payment entrepreneur. In or around 2002 O’Sullivan started to serve as chief executive of WalPay UK Limited (now Waltech Limited), one of Vanrenen’s companies. WalPay became a leading payment processor for high-risk operators in the often shadowy but legal industries that Wirecard has long served ― ones offering pornography, internet gambling, currency exchange, and binary options. Does this ring a bell with some Wirecard investigators?
In March 2006, a company named E-Credit Plus Pte. Ltd. was established in Singapore. Among the company’s executives, one finds Jan Marsalek. In December 2009, Wirecard purchased the company for €12.8 million euros and renamed into Wirecard Asia Pte. Ltd. It formed the basis for Wirecard’s rapid expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2014, Wirecard‘s annual report that it had “deconsolidated” Wirecard Asia Pte. Ltd. “to optimize its organizational structure.” The company was sold to Senjo Group, described by the Financial Times in April as one of Wirecard’s three biggest customers. And this very Senjo Group again is said to be associated with James Henry O’Sullivan.