The ex-banker João Rendeiro was found dead a few hours ago in his cell in Westville Prison, South Africa, reports CNN Portugal. The circumstances of the death are still under investigation, but it is known that he was in an 80m2 prison cell with around 50 inmates. However, Observador has reported that the South African authorities have suggested that Rendeiro committed suicide. The Portuguese ex-banker was captured on December 11 of this year in South Africa after escaping Portugal to not be imprisoned for the BPP case.
Rendeiro had been in prison in South Africa for 6 months while opposing the process of the extradition request by Portugal. He was sentenced in three distinct cases in 2013 related to the collapse of the Private Portuguese Bank (BPP), where it was proven in court that the ex-banker took 13.61 million euros from the bank. He was facing 19 years and 2 months in prison for his crime. He had been sentenced for fiscal fraud, money laundering, forgery, and more.
In September of 2021, Rendeiro announced in his blog that he would not be returning to Portugal for the trial and international arrest warrants were issued. In December of 2021, Rendeiro was arrested in South Africa by Interpol’s National Crime Bureau.
In April, Rendeiro’s lawyer June Marks had visited him in imprisonment and said that the ex-banker was well and “anxious” for the start of the trial. He was set to return to court next week on May 20 for the preparatory session, with the trial set for June 13 and 30.
Law Professor André Thomashausen told Observador radio that Rendeiro was in the “worst prison in South Africa” and maybe “even the worst in all of Africa” with 40,000 inmates in overcrowded conditions, with a lack of security and budget, as well as “managed by groups of organized crime”.
The collapse of the BPP in 2010 financially burdened thousands of clients and caused a 450 million euro loss to the state.