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Fugitive Portuguese banker hiding out in SA arrested in Durban

A fugitive banker wanted in Portugal on fraud charges involving €41m (about R740m) was arrested in Durban early on Saturday.

The website said João Rendeiro was arrested in a raid involving officers from the Judiciary Police in Portugal.

SA Police Service spokesperson Brig Vish Naidu said the arrest took place in Umhlanga Rocks, and a TimesLIVE source said Rendeiro had been living in Sandton. He is expected to appear in court on Monday.Judicial Police head Luis Neves announces the arrest of João Rendeiro on December 11 2021.
Image: TV image

Naidu said the arrest was preceded by a meeting between local investigators and Judicial Police head Luis Neves.

Neves said he used the meeting to outline “the gravity of (Rendeiro’s) crimes”, with the result that the SAPS “said they would help us detain him, which happened today”.

Rendeiro — founder and former president of Banco Privado Português (BPP), which collapsed in 2010 — was the subject of two international arrest warrants.

The former banker announced in a blog post on September 28 that he had left Portugal and that he did not intend to return to face trial. He had already been given a five-year prison term after an earlier conviction.

He said he felt wronged and claimed he had become a “scapegoat of a desire to punish those who, after all, were not punished”.

Rendeiro said he would return to Portugal only if he received a presidential pardon, but at a news conference in Lisbon on Saturday Neves said the Judicial Police had been tracking him since he left the UK on September 14 and arrived in SA on September 18.

“We detected several trips to neighbouring countries,” said Neves, adding that Rendeiro had been using expensive equipment to encrypt communications.

On the choice of SA and possible support from its Portuguese community, Neves said there had been “very circumstantial information about a friendship relationship”.

However, investigators found Rendeiro had made “an investment in SA with which he believed he had guaranteed his freedom. It was, therefore, that he was very surprised when he was arrested this Saturday at 7am”.

Neves said Rendeiro obtained a SA residence permit on November 10. “He walked without disguises, but with great care. He didn’t circulate freely,” he said.

Rendeiro’s wife, Maria, 63, is under house arrest at the couple’s mansion and Neves said when she was arrested for alleged money laundering on November 4 she told investigators her husband was in SA.

However, “we were already following him. She didn’t give any clues. We had to safeguard the secret and I’m glad we managed to guard the information.”

Neves highlighted the importance of co-operation with the police and judicial authorities of SA and Angola.

Portugal and SA have a number of agreements in place for judicial co-operation.




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