Maddie 'spy' facing fraud allegations

23 November 2009 
Liverpool Echo 
Liza Williams

A businessman hired to find Madeleine McCann has allegedly kept up to £300,000 meant to pay investigators. It has been reported that British security consultant, Kevin Halligen, 50, failed to pass the money on to private detectives who did the work for him. Around £500,000 was paid to his firm, Oakley International, by the Find Madeleine fund.

Halligen is said to have offered to provide satellite photos from the night Maddie - whose mother Kate is from Allerton - vanished to the family, but failed to do so. He is now reportedly wanted in the USA after an alleged £1.3m fraud. However he has not been arrested because authorities do not know where in the world he is.

The Madeleine fund hired Oakley International in 2007, but £100,000 was withheld after the firm allegedly failed to carry out agreed work, and the contract was not renewed in October last year.

Private investigators, including Henri Exton, a former national head of undercover operations for the British police, found it harder and harder to get their fees from Halligen. Mr Exton claims he is owed more than £100,000 for work he did on the Madeleine case. Documents are understood to show that while the firm was receiving the fund's cash, Halligen was spending large amounts for his personal use. This are said to have included first-class flights, hotels and chauffeur-driven cars.

The businessman, who has offices in Washington, left the city for a holiday in Rome but did not come back to the company base. According to witnesses he was last seen staying in Bath at the Royal under a false name. Friends said Halligen often tried to impress by pretending to have served in the intelligence services. It has also been reported that in 2007 he allegedly carried out a false wedding to a lawyer in Washington. But the businessman was already married and the priest was an actor.

The American financial investigation has uncovered Halligen bought a £1m mansion with money allegedly defrauded from Trafigura, the company accused of dumping toxic waste in Africa. The money was supposed to be used to help free two men imprisoned in Africa. Last week the US Department of Justice issued an indictment seeking his arrest over the alleged fraud. A spokesman for the Madeleine Fund said Halligen was hired but his contract was terminated when suspicions were raised.

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