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Interpol Arrests Fugitive Zimbabwean Banker In Taiwan, Repatriation Pending

Police in Zimbabwe would neither confirm nor deny the arrest, but sources said officials took the fugitive banker into custody Wednesday and he is to be deported back to Harare

Former Intermarket Holdings Limited Chief Executive Nicholas Vingirai, who fled Zimbabwe in 2004 after he was accused of illegally moving funds abroad, has been arrested by Interpol in Taiwan while on a trip from his safe haven in Singapore.

Police in Zimbabwe refused to confirm the arrest. But sources said officials took the fugitive banker into custody Wednesday and he will soon be repatriated.

Vingirai is one of several bankers who lost their firms after being accused of triggering the 2003 banking crisis that decimated Zimbabwe's financial sector.

Though the government took him off a list of specified individuals in 2009, Vingirai was still sought for alleged money laundering.

Economic commentator Walter Mbongolwane said Vingirai’s arrest and prosecution could embarrass some top officials in Harare who had close financial ties to him.

"But in Zimbabwe anything can happen because Vingirai can also be released without any charges," Mbongolwane added.

The banker is embroiled in a legal wrangle with other investors over the control of Intermarket Bank's position in Zimbabwe Financial Holdings Limited.

Some shareholders want to dilute Vingirai's stake of more than 70 percent in Intermarket Holdings, which merged with the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation in 2006.