independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Alleged Irish fraudster who helped hunt for Madeline McCann handed over to FBI

An alleged fraudster who set up a firm to hunt for Madeleine McCann is being handed to the FBI over a £1.3m (€1.6m) con.

Kevin Halligen's Washington-based company received around £300,000 from backers of Kate and Gerry McCann but his contract was terminated early and he was later accused of fraud in the US.

The Irish national, 51, lost an appeal against extradition earlier this month and will be sent to the US to face justice "as soon as possible", the Home Office said.

US officials believe he tried to cheat a London law firm out of $2.1m, claiming he needed funds to secure the release of two business executives from Dutch company Trafigura, who were arrested in Ivory Coast.

He is said to have spent the cash on a lavish lifestyle, including on a mansion in Virginia, US.

Mr Halligen was arrested at Old Bank hotel in Oxford in 2009 where he was staying for several months under an assumed name and had run up a £5,000 bill.

Police swooped after a hotel manager recognised him as a wanted man.

The McCanns used his firm Oakley International for around six months to look for their missing daughter.

The £500,000 contract saw the firm hire private detectives, set up a hotline and process information.

But the McCanns terminated the arrangement without paying the full fees because Halligen, from Surrey, apparently failed to fulfil certain agreements.

He faces no formal allegations in relation to that episode.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Kevin Richard Halligen is wanted in the US where he is accused of fraud.

"His appeal against extradition to the US was dismissed by the High Court on December 5 and arrangements are being made to extradite him as soon as possible."

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