McCanns' adviser Halligen in court

26 November 2009
Leicester Mercury

A businessman whose firm helped look for Madeleine McCann and who is wanted in the US for an alleged £1.3m fraud, appeared in court yesterday.  Kevin Halligen, 48, faced City of Westminster magistrates after he was arrested on an extradition warrant in Oxford. The US Department of Justice issued an indictment for Halligen, from Surrey, this month, alleging that he tried to defraud a London law firm of £1.3m. It said he took the money as part of a deal to secure the release of Dutch business executives arrested in the Ivory Coast, but instead spent it on a mansion, a gift to his girlfriend, cash machine withdrawals and debit card transactions.

He was arrested at a hotel in Oxford on Tuesday where he has been staying for several months under an assumed name. Following a short hearing at court, he was refused bail and he was remanded in custody until December 2, when the case will be heard again.

Halligen's firm, Oakley International, was used by Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry for around six months last year to look for their missing daughter. The Washington-based firm was paid about £300,000 to help look for the child after she went missing from an Algarve resort in May 2007 at the age of three. The six-month contract saw the firm hire other private detectives, set up a hotline and process information. The firm had initially been given a £500,000 contract but the McCanns terminated the arrangement before paying any more.

But the court heard that Halligen claims he had been forced to move from his UK address after press attention over his arrangement with the McCanns. Halligen is wanted in the US for taking money from Dutch company Trafigura and failing to send it as agreed on the release of their employees. Instead, he allegedly spent about £1 million on a mansion, £84,000 on a gift to his girlfriend and more than £26,000 on other items.

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