NBI wants 2 BI officers prosecuted over fake travel records of ex-Wirecard exec
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation has recommended the prosecution of two officers of the Bureau of Immigration before the Department of Justice for allegedly falsifying the travel records of a former executive of embattled German payments firm Wirecard.
NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor identified the two Immigration officers as Perry Michael Pancho, assigned at the Mactan Cebu International Airport, and Marcus Nicodemus assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 in Pasay City.
In a statement Thursday, Distor said operatives of the NBI-International Airport Investigation Division (NBI-IAID) launched an investigation when it received reports that Jan Marsalek, former chief operating officer of Wirecard which is embroiled in a $2.1 billion fraud case, had entered the Philippines on June 23 to evade European authorities.
Distor said the investigation showed that Marsalek’s most recent travel records to the Philippines include “spurious” ones, such as his arrival on June 23 at Naia Terminal 1 which was processed by immigration officer Darren Ilagan but with a mysterious “canceled by user” remark, and a departure on June 24 at Mactan Cebu International Airport processed by immigration officer Perry Michael Pancho.
The NBI explained that the records are fake because Ilagan was not in the official list of immigration officers on duty for mid-flight schedule on that date; there is an existing immigrations protocol as of that date disallowing passengers from entering the country due to the COVID-19 situation; there is an absence of actual scanned data page of Marsalek’s passport, among others.
Distor explained that under the protocols of the Management Information Systems Division, assigned immigration officers perform a derogatory check when a passenger presents himself at the Immigration counter for the arrival or departure process. Through this process, the information officer would be able to know if a passenger has an outstanding warrant of arrest, inclusion in the hold departure list or watchlist, or had been blacklisted.
However, this record check may be canceled by the immigration officer by encoding a “cancelled by user” remark.
“As a consequence, the next user should be able to see such and thus be notified of the status when the same passenger resurfaces at the BI counter for the departure formalities. In this case, the next IO (immigration officer) should be able to act accordingly which was contrary to what IO Pancho did when he still encoded a departure record on Marsalek,” the NBI said.
“It was discovered that the IO Supervisor for the March 5, 2020 departure of Marsalek, a certain IO Marcos Nicodemus was also the duty supervisor on June 23, 2020” the bureau added.
The NBI has summoned Ilagan and Pancho, but only the former appeared.
In Ilagan’s affidavit, he alleged that conducting the derogatory record check on Marsalek was ordered by his supervisor Nicodemus. He also claimed that when he realized the move was wrong, he immediately encoded a remark “canceled by user” in order to notify the next immigration officer to act accordingly.
“[Ilagan] added he realized after a few days that he was victimized of a ‘pabokol scheme’ where some of his co-workers and superiors made a seemingly harmless and significant request for their personal interests and benefits,” the NBI added.
According to NBI, there is no indication that Marsalek is still in the country due to confirmation that he did arrive on March 3 at Naia Terminal 3 via a Qatar Airways and departure flight on March 5 through the same airline and the “absence of a genuine arrival thereafter.”
NBI noted that the entries on the BI records for June 23 and 24, 2020, both spurious, appear to be mere diversionary to divert the attention of authorities in Europe to focus its attention in the Philippines and not in their jurisdiction.
Distor said the NBI recommended to the DOJ the prosecution of Pancho and Nicodemus for falsification of public documents by a public official under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) in relation to RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
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