Missing Irish tycoon Kevin McGeever is arrested on suspicion of wasting police time

McGeever was sought by the FBI and police in Germany investigating fraud

An Irish property tycoon who vanished for eight months – only to reappear on a country lane claiming to have been held hostage by an armed gang – has been arrested on suspicion of wasting police time.

Kevin McGeever attracted international publicity in January when he was found wandering, emaciated and dishevelled, on a rural road. The 68-year-old claimed to have been abducted by masked men who threatened to kill him unless a ransom was paid.

At one stage in his ordeal, Mr McGeever claimed his captors put a gun to his forehead and told him he had only two days left to live.

But as details emerged of his colourful and complicated business life and police struggled to trace his captors, doubts began to grow. Now the Irish authorities appear to suspect that there is less to the abduction tale than meets the eye, after arresting the flamboyant developer at his sprawling mansion near Galway city.

He was held for questioning under legislation which encompasses offences including wasting police time and making false allegations. He was released last night. It has emerged that in the past he has been sought by various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and police in Germany and the Far East who were investigating fraud.

His startling reappearance in January sparked speculation that he had been held for ransom by criminals, republicans or even the Russian mafia. When found, he had a long beard and long fingernails.

He had experienced dramatic weight loss, one witness describing him as “just skin and bones”. He spent some days in hospital receiving treatment for malnutrition and dehydration.

Mr McGeever operated a development company dealing with properties in Dubai and the US, with an extravagant lifestyle which included a helicopter and a fleet of cars.

Newspaper investigations into his business career revealed he had been in trouble with Interpol and the FBI, as well as police in Abu Dhabi and Germany. He was sought for questioning in the US where the FBI wished to interview him in connection with a suspected fraud involving $4m.

The Abu Dhabi authorities had sought to extradite him in connection with another suspected fraud.

Since his reappearance Mr McGeever has given no interviews but said in a statement that he was looking forward to dispelling allegations about his abduction and his business dealings.

His brother Brendan appeared on Irish radio to give a dramatic account of his experiences. 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. I have made my peace with my God.’”