End of the run for Portuguese banker Joao Rendeiro

It had been nearly three months since he had fled to avoid his imprisonment. Saturday, December 11, Portuguese banker Joao Rendeiro, targeted by an international arrest warrant, was finally arrested in his sumptuous hideout: a five-star hotel in Durban, South Africa. On this 69-year-old man, who thought himself untouchable, weigh three convictions, for “fraud”, “breach of trust”, “forgery and money laundering”, for a total of nineteen years in prison.

While waiting to be heard by the South African justice, which will have to decide on the Portuguese extradition request, he was imprisoned in the deemed violent prison of Westville, where, according to his lawyers, he would have received threats. For months, the Portuguese have followed with a mixture of fascination and indignation its adventures, worthy of a television series.

For President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the arrest of the banker is “An important moment for Portuguese justice (…), because it shows that no one is above the law ”.

Founder of the Portuguese Private Bank (BPP), an investment bank created in 1996 and specializing in the management of large fortunes, his conflict with the law began after the bankruptcy of the bank. In 2008, a hole of 700 million euros in the coffers forced the Portuguese government to intervene to recapitalize the financial establishment, in the midst of the economic crisis.

A succession of trials

In 2010, faced with the impossibility of putting the bank afloat, it was finally liquidated, and several legal proceedings were launched against its leaders, including Mr. Rendeiro. The trials follow one another, without changing his luxurious lifestyle, in his home in the residential area of ​​Quinta Patiño, in Cascais, nor limiting his travels in Europe or America. Justice then leaves him full freedom of movement, as long as no firm sentence is pronounced.

This is the case, finally, in September, when he receives in second instance five years and eight months in prison for computer falsification and forgery, having altered the BPP accounts. A few days later, a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence is issued for “qualified frauds” against clients. While he appealed a third judgment, which sentenced him in May to ten years in prison for appropriating 13.6 million euros from the bank between 2003 and 2008 for personal gain , he decides to take off.

A scapegoat “

On September 28, when an order of imprisonment seemed imminent, the banker, who was then on a trip to London, announced unvarnished on his blog, Arma / Critica. Defining himself as a ” scapegoat “, he warns his readers that he will not return to Portugal. “My absence is an act of self-defense in the face of unjust justice”, he writes.

While Portugal wonders where the former banker hid, the press revealing important transfers made to an account in Switzerland attached to offshore companies, it is his wife, Maria de Jesus da Silva Matos, who remained in Cascais, which is caught in the nets of justice. While she is supposed to watch, since 2010, on the 124 works of the collection of contemporary art of her husband, so that they can be used to pay the possible fines of her husband, it appears that fifteen have disappeared. Eight of them would have been auctioned for 1.3 million euros, including three paintings by the famous American artist Frank Stella.

In November, Mme da Silva Matos is under house arrest by the courts and must wear an electronic bracelet to avoid the risk of flight. It is to defend himself that Mr. Rendeiro comes out of his silence and grants two interviews to Portuguese media, through an encrypted communication system, from his refuge in South Africa. Without doubt the main mistake of the most famous Portuguese fugitive …

Read also When the Spanish justice seeks to spare the banks

We wish to say thanks to the writer of this write-up for this outstanding content

End of the run for Portuguese banker Joao Rendeiro