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Fugitive Portuguese banker dies in Durban prison

Nivashni Nair Senior reporter
Fugitive Portuguese banker João Rendeiro was arrested in SA on December 11 2021.
Fugitive Portuguese banker João Rendeiro was arrested in SA on December 11 2021.
Image: http://joaorendeiro.com/

A fugitive banker wanted in Portugal on fraud charges involving 31m euros (about R518.5m) died in Durban's Westville Prison before his court appearance on Friday.

The department of correctional services (DCS) confirmed the death of Joao Manuel de Oliveira Rendeiro.

“The detainee was due to appear in court today [Friday]. DCS has urgently launched an investigation in determining the cause and circumstances leading to his death,” said department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo.

NPA spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said the pretrial conference for the extradition hearing of Rendeiro was set down for May 20.

“Sometime during the course of this week the state received notification from Rendeiro's legal representative stating that she would be withdrawing her services. The state then requisitioned for Rendeiro to appear in the Verulam magistrate's court today so that legal issues can be addressed before next week’s pretrial conference.

“Prior to today’s proceedings, the state was informed that Rendeiro had passed away. The NPA is awaiting confirmation of this. The magistrate adjourned the case to May 20 for the court to confirm Rendeiro’s demise and to decide further on the matter,” she said.

Rendeiro was arrested in Umhlanga, north of Durban, in December on an Interpol Red Notice.

In September Rendeiro was convicted of tax evasion and money laundering amounting to 31m euros in Portugal and was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.

He took the matter on appeal and when Portuguese authorities realised he had absconded, they issued the Red Notice.

With Rendeiro in custody, SA authorities received a second international warrant from Portugal for his arrest.

This pertained to charges of computer forgery and forgery of bulletins and minutes, where he was sentenced to five years and eight months' imprisonment.

The sentence was finalised even though Rendeiro had appealed.


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