After a week of wild speculation from authorities and the press who were trying to locate fugitive Italian entrepreneur Matteo Quintavalle, the flamboyant millionaire nonchalantly showed up in court Monday with his gay partner.
“I’ve been in an apartment three blocks from my house in Escazú (west of San José). I don’t know where these stories came from that I was somewhere else,” Quintavalle told the press upon his appearance in court.
Since authorities began looking for Quintavalle, the prosecutor’s office has tacked on a money-laundering accusation to his case, which is under ongoing investigation. Though prosecutors are now investigating Quintavalle and six of his associates for accusations of fraud, conspiracy, illegal financial intermediation and money laundering, no formal charges have been filed, state prosecutor Alfredo Araya told The Tico Times.
After a July 5 raid on his home and properties, in which police couldn’t find him, an international arrest warrant was issued for the millionaire, who has been accused by 17 U.S. investors of having cheated them out of millions with unauthorized deposit slips for a non-existent bank (TT, July 13).
All last week, authorities and press weren’t able to locate him. Authorities suspected he had escaped to Panama, while the daily La Nación reported that he may have been hiding out in the community of Santa Cruz, where he is revered by residents for having donated a wall for the local soccer field, among other support he gave to the community. The daily Diario Extra even reported that Quintavalle may have been arrested in the Southern Zone, though their report conceded it may have just been a guy who looked like the stout Italian.
A judge ordered Quintavalle to six months of preventive detention Tuesday.
The businessman’s romantic partner, Marvin Hernández, appeared in court Monday as well, and was also handed preventive measures. Hernández is required to sign in with the court every 15 days and cannot leave the country, according to prosecutor Araya.
Araya said five other business associates of Quintavalle, who are being investigated in the case, will be called to appear in court in coming days.
The Quintavalle Investments group, which formed part of a conglomerate of numerous licensed businesses that those involved in the case allegedly used to defraud investors, accrued losses totaling $4.6 million, according to Araya. One of the suspects being investigated is Christopher Coulter, who allegedly attracted U.S. clients to invest with the group in Costa Rica, according to the daily La Nación. Most of the U.S. clients were from the state of Florida, Araya said.
Quintavalle arrived at San Sebastián prison Wednesday afternoon, according to a Justice Ministry Statement.