Deepening mystery of the Irish tycoon’s eight months ‘in the hands of kidnappers’

Kevin McGeever was known to Interpol, the FBI and police forces

The extraordinary story of the missing property tycoon who was found wandering barefoot down a remote road with “thief” carved into his forehead made headlines around the world.

But now Kevin McGeever’s account of his eight-month ordeal is coming under scrutiny, as revelations about the Irish businessman’s colourful past raise questions about the circumstances of his kidnapping.

Mr McGeever, 68, had previously been in trouble with Interpol, the FBI and police in Germany and Abu Dhabi, it was claimed today.

He was once sought for questioning in the US where the FBI wanted to interview him in connection with a suspected four million dollar fraud, the Irish Independent reported.

And it is alleged that Abu Dhabi authorities attempted to extradite him from Germany in connection with another suspected fraud involving more than half a million euros.

In Ireland meanwhile there are complaints from individuals about property deals in Abu Dhabi, with allegations that Mr McGeever did not deliver on the sales of apartments  so that they lost money in dealings with him.

The claims throw new light on his dramatic account of spending eight months in the hands of kidnappers. He said they threatened his life, warning him he would be killed unless a ransom was paid.

Two weeks ago he was found wandering on a lonely country road, bedraggled, with a lengthy beard and long fingernails. He had experienced acute weight loss, with a woman who encountered him describing him as “just skin and bones”.

McGeever has since been in hospital receiving treatment for malnutrition and dehydration, and has yet to provide Irish police with a full statement of what happened over the past eight months.

He has not spoken to the media but his brother Brendan said in an interview that his captors never spoke and kept their faces covered. He said: “They handed him notes to look at, saying ‘You have two more days to live.’ They put a gun to his forehead one time and he said, ‘Do it now, do it now, I have made my peace with my God’.”  Brendan McGeever said his brother had described media speculation about Russian mafia involvement in his kidnapping as “nonsense”.

He said family members were not at first worried about his disappearance because he often spent months abroad.

Given his chequered past, McGeever’s version of events is now prompting questions.

Reports in the Irish press over the weekend suggest he had been on Interpol “watch lists” since 2003 at the request of the FBI in connection with fraud investigations.

And it is claimed that he was once arrested in Germany when the Abu Dhabi authorities, who wished to speak to him about suspected fraud, unsuccessfully attempted to have him extradited.

Since 2009, meanwhile, he has been involved in legal proceedings taken against his company in Ireland. Dublin headlines such as “International man of mystery was wanted by FBI in $4 fraud probe” have come as a major surprise to locals in the quiet Galway village of Craughwell where he has a palatial holiday home.

There is little sign of Irish police launching any manhunt in the area, while no one in the village is at all worried that armed abductors may still be at large in the countryside.

Those who speak of McGeever generally have a good word for him. “I couldn’t say anything against him, he would stop and talk to me,” said Fintan Connolly, known locally as Herman the Hermit, who washes cars at a village filling station.

“You just knew he had money – one of his Porsches was a GT3 limited edition, with thousands worth of extras in it. But he’s a friendly guy, he wasn’t stuck up. In fact a friend of mine who did some work for him said he was the most agreeable man he ever worked with.”

A local housing expert said he had paid more than €1m for the house, then spent a fortune on it. “He ripped it apart,” said the expert. “He’s supposed to have spent €4m on it, but today he’d struggle to get over a million for it.”  The house, named Nirvana, was built with the extravagance which typified the Celtic tiger era, when free-spending and conspicuous display was the order of the day.

McGeever would land his helicopter round the back, where he also garaged his two Porsches, one of them a 4 x 4, and a Ferrari.

Local man Francis Donoghue said: “This is a nice quiet small village, no crime in it, no violence. We knew the big house but we didn’t know him, just knew he was a big businessman.”

Another local added: “He’d be here for a weekend or two, but then it was nothing new for him to go missing for a few months.”

He added: “He had all the trappings but what he really had I don’t know  – fancy cars, big house, that kind  of thing, but what was behind it you don’t know.”

Craughwell’s many shuttered businesses show that the village has, like everywhere else in Ireland, suffered badly from the deep recession which followed the Celtic tiger boom years. But McGeever had appeared immune to the slump.

Voices
Numbers of complaints about unwanted calls have trebled in just six months
voices
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
Picture of innocence: Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in ‘Derek’
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Life & Style
Looking familiar: The global biometrics industry is expected to grow to $20bn by 2020
tech
News
Higher expectations: European economies are growing but the recovery remains weak
newsThe eurozone crisis has tipped many into despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues economist Philippe Legrain
Arts & Entertainment
Tangled up in blue: Singer-songwriter Judith Owen
musicAnd how husband Harry Shearer - of Spinal Tap and The Simpsons fame - helped her music flourish
Sport
Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the opening goal
sportReal Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0: Germans will need their legendary self-belief to rescue Champions League tie in second leg
Arts & Entertainment
Paul Weller: 'I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting'
music
Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes has claimed supporters understand the need to look at
sportScot thanks club staff and fans, but gives no specific mention of players
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Life & Style
Balancing act: City workers at the launch of Cityfathers
lifeThe organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group boasting more than 3,000 members
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Fresh hope: Ruth Womak and her dog Jess. A free training course in basic computing skills changed Ruth’s life
educationHow a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Migrants in Britain a decade on: The Poles who brought prosperity

Migrants in Britain a decade on

The Poles who brought prosperity
Philippe Legrain: 'The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - we need a European Spring'

Philippe Legrain: 'We need a European Spring'

The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues the economist
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj
Judith Owen reveals how husband Harry Shearer - star of This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons - helped her music flourish

Judith Owen: 'How my husband helped my music flourish'

Her mother's suicide and father's cancer also informed the singer-songwriter's new album, says Pierre Perrone
The online lifeline: How a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression

Online lifeline: Housing association's educational initiative

South Yorkshire Housing Association's free training courses gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?

Face-recognition software: The end of anonymity?

The software is already used for military surveillance, by police to identify suspects - and on Facebook
Train Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video - so how can you cash in on your candid moments?

Viral videos: Cashing in on candid moments

Train Kick Selfie Guy Jared Frank could receive anything between $30,000 to $250,000 for his misfortune - and that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube
The world's fastest elevators - 20 metres per second - are coming soon to China

World's fastest elevators coming soon to China

Whatever next? Simon Usborne finds out from Britain's highest authority on the subject
Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture that causes men to miss out on seeing their children

Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture

The organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills, a chief operating officer who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group that now boasts more than 3,000 members
Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable