An Irish property developer who claimed he was kidnapped for eight months has been arrested on suspicion of wasting police time, Irish media reported on Friday.

Kevin McGeever, 68, was found in an emaciated and dishevelled state at the end of January, wandering along a road in County Leitrim, western Ireland.

A startled couple discovered him with long fingernails, a scruffy beard and the word "thief" written on his forehead.

McGeever told police he had been abducted by three masked men at his mansion in County Galway over 160 kilometres (100 miles) away.

The businessman, who made his fortune selling exclusive properties in Dubai, had been reported missing to police last May.

Police confirmed that a 68-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the bizarre case.

"We are not confirming the name of the individual, but we can confirm that a 68-year-old male was arrested on Thursday," a police spokesman told AFP.

Irish media identified the man arrested as McGeever.

The Irish Independent newspaper quoted a senior police source as saying: "Gardai (Irish police) have exhausted every line of inquiry in relation to his mysterious case and found no evidence of a threat or a ransom demand.

"The fact he has been arrested (on suspicion of) wasting garda time speaks for itself."

Police said the man was being held under the Criminal Justice Act, which allows him to be detained for up to 24 hours.

After his discovery in January, McGeever spent several days in hospital before giving a statement to police.

McGeever ran a successful property company, KMM International Properties, selling luxurious commercial and residential properties in Dubai, mainly to wealthy Irish and British buyers during the economic boom of the last decade.