~ Updated includes statement from Grant Thornton International in final paragraph.
The South China Morning Post is reporting that former Grant Thornton partner, Gabriel Azedo was arrested in Spain, citing “people with knowledge of his detention.”
Gaby was on the lam for over year and has allegedly stolen HK$91 million (around USD$11.7 million) from those close to him, although one of his alleged victims doesn’t see this as a half glass full situation:
Yesterday one of his alleged creditors, racehorse owner Archie da Silva, said: “I don’t know whether to be happy or not. Just because he has been arrested doesn’t mean we will get our money back. It could be a very tedious process to get him back to Hong Kong.”
Arch’s concerns about bureaucratic nightmare that is extradition seem to be well-founded, as the article explains that getting Gaby back to Hong Kong really isn’t going to be easy:
“There is no bilateral agreement between Hong Kong and Spain but a transfer under multilateral treaties the two jurisdictions are signatories to, or under provisions in Spanish domestic law, are two areas that can be looked at,” the person said.
However, it is likely extradition could involve a lengthy legal and diplomatic process because Hong Kong has no Surrender of Fugitive Offenders Agreement with Spain.
Another officer linked to the case said: “It’s really up to Spanish authorities to decide whether to hand over the man to us. They could ignore our request as there is no legal obligation for them to hand over Azedo.”
We contacted Grant Thornton International to see if they wanted to comment but have yet to hear back. It goes without saying that this story is pretty strange/intriguing so, we’ll continue to follow the developments.
UPDATE, circa 10:45 am ET: A Grant Thornton International spokeswoman provided us with the following statement regarding the matter:
“We understand from media reports that Gabriel Azedo has been arrested in Spain and that he may be the subject of extradition proceedings to Hong Kong. He was a member of the global leadership board of Grant Thornton International until his dismissal in October 2009. Immediately following his disappearance, Ms. Angela Gardner, a close relative of Mr. Azedo, filed a lawsuit in Hong Kong against Grant Thornton International Ltd but this was subsequently dismissed by the Hong Kong court.
While the situation is highly regrettable for the individuals concerned, this is now a matter for them and for the Hong Kong courts.”