SIN: Thilagaratnam Rajaratnam sentenced for "failing to use reasonable diligence in the discharge of the duties of his office" as a company director.

News Desk
Thilagaratnam S/O Rajaratnam is the sole director of Strategic Corporate Investments Pte Ltd (“Strategic”), incorporated in Singapore. Thilagaratnam is a Singapore citizen. But he didn't own Strategic and took no part in its management. Then the company laundered EUR 54,718,880.76, part of the missing Wirecard money.

Strategic was formed by Thilagaratnam's brother, R Shanmugaratnam, a director of Citadelle Corporate Services Pte Ltd (“Citadelle”). Citadelle a company services provider.

The owner of Stratgic was James Henry O’Sullivan who owned several companies for which Citadelle (sic) provided services.

According to Singapore Police, "Sometime in 2014, Thilagaratnam agreed with R Shanmugaratnam to be the sole director and shareholder of Strategic for SGD500 a month, but not participate in the management or operations of the company. He also was the sole signatory to Strategic’s bank account as of August 2015."

This nominee director function is far from rare.

"In particular, Thilagaratnam did not know that between December 2014 and September 2015, Strategic’s bank account received a total of EUR 54,718,880.76 from Wirecard AG, an international payment and financial services provider incorporated in Germany. These funds were subsequently transferred to various parties," said the police in a statement after Thilagaratnam's sentencing following a guilty plea.

The company's involvement came to light when Wirecard's auditors sought information from Strategic, investigating moneys that, according to the books in Germany, were held on account for Wirecard.

Shanmugaratnam prepared seven letters from Strategic addressed to Wirecard AG. These letters stated that Strategic held amounts ranging from EUR 29,940,119.76 to EUR 54,718,880.76 at the end of various financial years. In fact, Strategic did not hold such amounts at those points in time. Thilagaratnam signed the letters, relying on what his brother told him.

Despite being unaware of the purpose of the letters or the matters mentioned therein, Thilagaratnam did not ask R Shanmugaratnam, O’Sullivan or O’Sullivan’s employees about them.

Thilagaratnam has not been charged with money laundering but he was charged with failing to discharge his duties as an officer of the company, in a clear warning to others who may be nominee directors.

On 7 February 2024, he was sentenced to four weeks imprisonment, and disqualified from acting as a director for five years.