Oil tycoon eludes police in Bermuda

The Bermuda police have had to appeal to local residents for help in finding John Deuss, the oil tycoon and banker who is facing extradition over a money laundering probe.

The Bermuda Police Service issued a statement last week asking anyone knowing his whereabouts to contact them. Bermuda is a tropical island of just 20 square miles. Force spokesman Robin Simmons said he could make no other comment about whether officers had already searched for Mr Deuss, a Dutch citizen who lives in Bermuda, or whether he was known still to be on the island.

At the centre of the criminal investigation into Mr Deuss's operations is First Curacao International Bank (FCIB), licensed in the Netherlands Antilles and beneficially owned by Mr Deuss. This was also the vehicle through which Mr Deuss controlled another bank, Bermuda Commercial Bank (BCB). FCIB owns a 48 per cent stake in BCB.

FCIB, which was shut down last month, is alleged to have been the main bank used by UK VAT criminals to move illegal profits out of Europe. So-called "carousel fraud" - keeping the VAT on goods sold across borders - is thought to be costing British taxpayers £5bn a year.

Extradition proceedings were launched after Dutch police issued an arrest warrant for Mr Deuss, 64. The Dutch want him to be sent to the Netherlands so he can be interviewed about "handling stolen property, deliberate/habitual laundering and being in charge of a criminal organisation", according to local reports.

He has denied any wrongdoing and his legal team say he is not on the run. Lawyer Mark Pettingill said: "I don't know where Mr Deuss is and Mr Deuss has not been served with a warrant. He is not a fugitive from justice."

Mr Deuss achieved a high profile in the 1980s when he supplied the South African apartheid regime with oil.