A fugitive banker wanted in Portugal for 31 million euros (about 518.5 million rand) in fraud died in Durban’s Westville prison before appearing in court on Friday.
The Department of Corrections (DCS) confirmed the death of Joao Manuel de Oliveira Rendeiro.
“The detainee was due to appear in court today [Friday]. DCS has launched an urgent investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of his death,” said department spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo.
NPA spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said the pre-trial conference for the extradition hearing was from Rendeiro scheduled for May 20.
Sometime this week, the state received a notification from Rendeiro’s legal representative that she was retiring from her services. The State then requested that Rendeiro appear before Verulam Magistrates’ Court today to allow legal issues to be discussed ahead of next week’s pre-trial conference.
“Prior to today’s trial, the State was informed that Rendeiro had passed away. The NPA is awaiting confirmation. The judge adjourned the case until May 20 so that the court could confirm Rendeiro’s death and decide further on the matter,” she said.
Rendeiro was arrested in December in Umhlanga, north of Durban with an Interpol Red arrested Note.
In September, Rendeiro was sentenced in Portugal to 10 years in prison for tax evasion and money laundering amounting to 31 million euros (519 million Rand).
He took the punishment matter on appeal and when the Portuguese authorities found that he had fled, they issued the Red Notice.
While Rendeiro was in custody, the South African authorities received a second international arrest warrant from Portugal against him. This included charges of computer forgery and falsifying bulletins and minutes, where he was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison. The verdict became final despite Rendeiro’s appeal.
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