A man wanted for an alleged £1.5m swindle in South Africa has been unmasked as a fugitive by a former pupil at a British school where he taught.
Former insurance broker Mike Hale, 63, has been publicly named as an alleged fugitive fraudster hiding in open view as a supply teacher in Cornwall.
South African police have reportedly been hunting him in connection with a 20 million rand fraud (£1.2m) since he disappeared from the country in 2009.
His disappearance allegedly coincided with the money going missing from the accounts of his company, MJCM Insurance Brokers, based in Pietermaritzburg.
Mr Hale, 63, a former captain of the Great Britain water polo team, is accused of 45 counts of fraud affecting 200 people.
He was identified last week by former Falmouth School pupil, Daniel Templeton, who was taught PE by him 18 months ago.
He claims he realised his former PE teacher was an alleged on-the-run fraudster after reading stories online.
“I thought: ’Oh my god, that’s really him’,” he told the ThisisCornwall online newspaper site.
“I just find it ridiculous that somebody can become a teacher after that. Surely he must have gone through the system?”
The site reports that Mr Hale registered with a teaching agency in 2009 and has taught at Falmouth School, Penryn College and Camborne Science and International Academy.
A secondary school pupil from the area also posted an article on Facebook, which included a picture of Mr Hale, writing: “I swear he was at our school,” the website reports.
The article attracted almost 100 comments with one stating: “He taught me on Friday,” the site added.
The PE teacher and former broker has denied any wrongdoing and says he fled South Africa because of stress.
“My attorneys are dealing with it. There were other people over there who were in the wrong, I’m not in the wrong,” he told the Daily Mail.
“I’m very upset about it. It’s a very difficult situation. I left because everything failed and I was stressed out.”
It also reports that police in South Africa are now aware of Mr Hale’s whereabouts and are in touch with the UK authorities to try to extradite him.
In a further twist a business partner in South Africa has been granted permission by a high court in the country to begin a lawsuit against him.
The Witness daily newspaper, published in Pietermaritzburg, reports an “urgent court order” was obtained by lawyer and long-time friend of Mr Hale, Rob Dawson.
“Dawson says in court papers he entered into a business partnership with Hale in October 2007 to buy property (in a scheme known as Crestview) as an investment with the intention of selling it later for profit,” the newspaper reports.
“He says they both made equal contributions to the partnership, and had obtained a bond over the property in respect of which they each made equal monthly payments.
“Dawson said when Hale fled the country on July 9, 2009 Hale’s share of the bond repayments fell into arrears, affecting his own interest in the property and partnership.
“Dawson said in order to protect his own share, he has since been paying both Hale’s and his own contribution to the bond.”
He goes on to say that not knowing his whereabouts had meant that he was unable to dissolve the partnership.
“I recall distinctly him telling me that he played water polo for England so I have no doubt that the person referred to in the front page article of The Witness ... is in fact my partner,” Mr Dawson told the newspaper.
“I know for a fact that he read the local newspaper on a daily basis.”
A spokeswoman for the British Home Office said: “As a matter of long-standing policy and practice, the UK will neither confirm nor deny that an extradition request has been made or received until such time as a person is arrested in relation to a request.”