Body found in France may be €22m fraud fugitive
Published 02/06/2011 | 05:00
POLICE officers are awaiting confirmation on whether a body discovered in France is that of an Irish fugitive on the run for 25 years.
Robert Stapleton (67) is believed to be responsible for €22.65m that went missing, and was on Britain's Top 10 Most Wanted list by Crimestoppers UK for many years.
He was also wanted by gardai after he failed to surrender himself to be extradited to Britain, following a Supreme Court decision here in 2007.
It is understood the body believed to be Mr Stapleton's was discovered on a pavement on May 22 in the town of Montfort-sur-Meu in Brittany.
It is believed he suffered a heart attack but the exact cause of death hasn't been determined.
An old Irish driving licence was found in his possession and French police have since been working with gardai on the case.
Stapleton, who was originally from Kilkenny before he moved to Dublin, was involved in 30 offences, where he fraudulently obtained loans for his businesses by inventing fictitious overseas contracts.
Ultraleisure, which manufactured foldaway squash courts and collapsed in the 1980s, was one of a number of companies run by Mr Stapleton in the UK.
Police claimed he did this "to support his companies and fund an extravagant lifestyle".
However, Mr Stapleton fled to Spain before charges could be brought against him.
In his absence, his wife Julia received a suspended sentence in 1986 after being convicted on 20 counts of deception.