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Fugitive Portuguese banker captured in South Africa

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By Reuters

LISBON – A former Portuguese bank head who vanished to escape a jail sentence for tax fraud and other crimes has been captured three months after he disappeared, police said on Saturday.

Portuguese criminal investigation agency PJ said Joao Rendeiro, the ex-president of the small private investment bank Banco Privado Português (BPP), was arrested in South Africa.

Portugal does not have an extradition treaty with South Africa but there is a cooperation agreement between the two countries that would allow authorities to bring him back, PJ director Luis Neves said at a news conference on Saturday.

Neves did not reveal the exact location of Rendeiro’s arrest. He said Rendeiro had spent time in luxury hotels in Johannesburg and other cities, and used pricey communication technologies to hide his location. Local media said he was arrested at a hotel in Durban.

BPP collapsed in 2010, triggering investigations and legal proceedings for tax fraud, forgery and money laundering. Rendeiro has been convicted of 16 crimes in three separate cases – all related to BPP‘s collapse.

Shortly after Rendeiro left Portugal in September, he wrote on his blog that he had no intention of returning and that his escape was an “act of self-defence” against what he described as an unfair justice system.