The 62-year-old was arrested by French police on Tuesday in Saint-Raphaël near Fréjus on the Côte d'Azur, reported French newspaper Var Matin on Thursday.
Wanted by Swiss police for drug-related money laundering of several hundred thousand francs, he was the subject of an international arrest warrant after fleeing from Switzerland.
Since May 2014 he had been passing for a homeless man in Saint-Raphaël, and even took a bed in an emergency shelter, said the paper.
But he was caught on Tuesday after police were informed that a man fitting his description played the popular French game of pétanque – or boules – each afternoon at a local recreation area in the town.
“At the beginning of the week we received information that this man was often at a boules ground in Saint-Raphaël,” a police source told news agency ATS.
“After carrying out surveillance, we were able to confirm that this was the right man and we arrested him.
He acknowledged he was the subject of a warrant,” the source said.
On Wednesday he appeared before the public prosecutor of Aix-en-Provence, which will decide whether to extradite him to Switzerland.