Pudgy millionaire and aspiring soccer mogul Matteo Quintavalle is still nowhere to be found despite a massive manhunt and warrant out for the flamboyant entrepreneur’s arrest.
Emilio León, from the international police agency Interpol, told The Tico Times there is now an international arrest warrant out for the alleged Italian scammer, who may have recently slipped out of Costa Rica into Panama.
A group of 17 U.S. investors filed a criminal complaint against Quintavalle in April for allegedly cheating them with unauthorized deposit slips for a non-existent bank, according to Judicial Branch spokesman Fabian Barrantes. Prosecutors have since accused him of fraud, conspiracy and illegal financial intermediation.
About 30 Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) agents and other authorities didn’t find Quintavalle during July 5 raids on his homes, hotels and offices in the central Pacific town of Quepos and the western San José suburb of Escazú. But they didn’t come up completely empty-handed, seizing heaps of documents, a computer, hard drives and several safes, according to OIJ spokesman Francisco Ruiz.
Costa Rica’s financial oversight body, the General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF), has fined Quintavalle’s company, Depository Pacific Bank, for the unauthorized use of the term “bank” in the company name. Last month, Banco de Costa Rica requested that Quintavalle close 11 accounts he had with the bank because he allegedly had been moving more money through the accounts than agreed upon – more than $10 million. Quintavalle then announced he would move his money to Banco Nacional.
But a criminal judge has now ordered that his accounts be frozen. Though state prosecutors requested that the judge allow the seizure of his personal plane and vehicles, the judge allowed only for his bank accounts to be frozen with almost $4.1 million of questioned funds.
Plaintiffs in the case against Quintavalle say they each invested between $50,000 to $1.1 million in real estate, hotels, restaurants and other assets but have not received any returns.
Quintavalle’s lawyer, Rafael Gairaud, denies payments were missed, and told the daily La Nación that his client will appear in court, though he hasn’t said when, and that he has offered to appear in court on previous occasions.
Quintavalle has told a local television news channel that the investors’ concern was possibly caused by promises of high returns made by someone other than himself, though he did not specify who.
On May 20, a judge restricted travel for not only Quintavalle but also for four of his business associates wanted in the case, according to Barrantes.
On July 6, another judge ordered the arrest of Quintavalle and five suspects, the daily La Nación reported.
Quintavalle, who is not camera shy and seemed to never turn down a television interview, has repeatedly claimed that his business is legitimate, and that he is being persecuted in Costa Rica because he is gay.
Since the case began in April, Quintavalle had been spending generously to purchase the contracts of local soccer stars. In one instance he angered soccer club Saprissa’s manager when he bought out the team’s star forward Allan Alemán and slipped him a brand new BMW, among other gifts. Though Quintavalle had amassed a handful of soccer players, many have expressed to La Nación plans to back out of their agreement with the businessman.
The 34-year-old, who sports slicked-back hair and colorful sunglasses, came into the public eye in Costa Rica in March when he offered up $3 million to buy La Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, one of Costa Rica’s best soccer teams. It was one of Quintavalle’s several failed attempts to buy major sports teams here. Among other plans, he has also promised to build a 15,000-seat soccer stadium in San José de Alajuela, northwest of San José.
The daily La Nación reported this week that Quintavalle had to return a hotel he had bought for $2.6 million back to its African owner because he had planned to pay off the balance for the hotel using the now-frozen funds.