‘World’s most wanted man’ was the opening of an investigative report by Bellingcat which claims to use digital data to piece together events.
The report published this Saturday says Jan Marsalek (pictured), the COO of Wirecard since 2010, had lied about going to the Philippines after his disappearance late last month following the eruption of Germany’s and Europe’s biggest financial scandal after auditors confirmed $2 billion was missing from Wirecard.
After inspecting arrival and departure databases from FlighRadar, Flighstats and FlightAware, the Bellingcat reporters concluded he had gone to Belarus.
Today it was revealed Russia wasn’t very sure about their ally, presumably because pro democracy and liberty forces have been rising in Belarus which has been ruled by Aleksander Lukashenka for the past 25 years.
As such, according to Germany’s financial paper Handelsblatt, Russia’s new KGB, GRU, brought him into Russia proper.
They say Jan Marsalek “is said to be housed on a property west of Moscow under the supervision of the Russian military secret service GRU.”
Handelsblatt goes so far as to imply there was a Russian spy in the middle of Berlin, stating according to a very rough translation:
“In talks and chats, Marsalek has often stylized himself as a secret agent and must have worked closely with the GRU on visits to Palmyra, Syria, and investments in Libya that he indicated. During his frequent trips to Russia alone, the 40-year-old used six passports.”
Bellingcat says in some of his visits to Russia he used a diplomatic passport as well from an unnamed country with this diplomatic passport extremely unusually given to a non citizen. They also say:
“Whatever kept bringing Marsalek to Russia in 2015 and 2016 must have caught up with him in 2017.
After 4 trips early in the year – as usual, each no longer than a day or two – Wirecard’s COO flew back from Munich to Moscow on 9 September 2017, but did not leave until a week later.
In fact, he was not allowed to leave even when he attempted to: immigration records show that on the morning of 15 September, at 8:05 his attempt to leave the country using a private business jet was denied by FSB’s border service.
It is not clear what caused the detention, but it appears that his initially booked jet had to be let go without Marsalek.
At 17:35 that afternoon, Marsalek did leave Russia after all, using a different private jet. This was the last time Wirecard’s boss would visit Russia. Or at least, the last time using his Austrian passport,” emphasis theirs.
At the end of July 2017 Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece with Mark Karpeles of MT Gox accusing him of being the thief of some 800,000 bitcoins that were stolen from the exchange.
Vinnik’s connection to BTC-e was confirmed in July 2017 with extradition court battles leading to court trials that are yet to start in France.
The fairly close timing of FSB’s intervention in regards to Marsalek may well be a coincidence, but a leak revealed that in mid-May 2018 a transfer occurred to, allegedly, Russian authorities, with BBC claiming Wex’s known wallets show 30,000 bitcoin and 700,000 litecoin left the exchange on May 16th 2018.
Bellingcat says Russian authorities stopped tracking Marsalek at the end of 2018, while Handelsblatt claims he “brought significant sums to Russia in the form of bitcoins from Dubai, where Wirecard had operated dubious operations.”