During better days, João and Maria de Jesus Rendeiro

Round-the-clock police guard on wife of fugitive BPP bankster

Following a night in jail, 63-year-old Maria de Jesus Rendeiro – wife of fugitive BPP bankster João Rendeiro – has been allowed home to house arrest, pending the application of an electronic bracelet (see update below).

While the logistics of applying the bracelet are being put in place, there is a round-the-clock police guard outside the Rendeiro mansion in Quinta Patiño, Alcabideche.

This extraordinary story – getting so much exposure well over a decade since the former BPP president was cited for fraud and corruption – is showing little sign of ‘calming down’.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã suggests authorities are ‘coming down hard’ after the horse has effectively bolted in a bid to locate Mr Rendeiro (click here), for whom two international arrest warrants have already been issued.

Investigations underway have already apprehended “several documents on offshore societies” – some of them from the home of Mr Rendeiro’s former driver Florêncio de Almeida, whose father of the same name ‘the Taxi king’, or president of the Portuguese association of light vehicle passenger drivers, ANTRAL, is also a target of investigations.

Both men and their respective spouses are described today as ‘arguidos’ (official suspects), suspected of money-laundering, or more precisely, of being involved in an alleged elaborate scheme to hide Mr Rendeiro’s wealth from Portuguese judicial authorities.

Money-laundering is one of the suspicions hanging over Mrs Rendeiro, too.

From the initial possible charge of ‘descaminho’ for supposedly turning a blind eye to the sale of works of art that had been impounded (click here), Mrs Rendeiro appears now to be facing extra suspicions of falsification and disobedience, says CM.

According to a report in the paper today, authorities “have no doubts that Maria de Jesus Rendeiro helped launder her husband’s money and benefitted from the spoils of his criminal activity”. 

She is understood to have “known about the scheme to sell assets” that had been impounded by the courts – to try and ensure their value could eventually be used to reimburse victims of the BPP debacle – and earlier this week, PJ police are understood to have “found various paintings of João Rendeiro inside (Mrs Rendeiro’s) car”.

“The car was in one of the (couple’s) Lisbon homes that were involved in searches. Authorities believe this was just another manoeuvre to hide Mr Rendeiro’s assets”, says CM.

For now, the round-the-clock police surveillance of Mrs Rendeiro is designed to ensure that she doesn’t ‘disappear’ in the same way that her husband did just over a month ago (click here).

Absent from reports this morning are any statements by either Mr or indeed Mrs Rendeiro’s defence team.

UPDATE: it transpires that Mrs Rendeiro was given an ultimatum during her questioning yesterday at Lisbon’s Criminal Court: ‘tell us where your husband is, or else you will to be sent back to jail’. Explain reports, being allowed to remain under house arrest, fitted with electronic bracelet, is reward for giving authorities details of her husband’s whereabouts. Previously given as Singapore, it now appears Mr Rendeiro is in South Africa.

As Observador reported in September, Portugal and South Africa have a number of bilateral agreements in place for judicial cooperation.

Lawyer Paulo de Sá e Cunha told the online that even if there is no extradition treaty in place, “there is the Law of International Judicial Cooperation which means the Portuguese State can ask a foreign State to extradite someone. And the State decides according to the internal laws of that State”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com