Madeleine 'helper' is remanded in custody

25 December 2009
Loughborough Echo

A businessman whose firm helped look for Rothley girl Madeleine McCann was remanded in custody after US authorities launched extradition proceedings over an alleged £1.3m fraud.

Kevin Halligen, 48, was due to apply for bail at a hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, in London, but did not attend and was not represented by a lawyer. District Judge Caroline Tubbs remanded Halligen in custody and adjourned the case until January 27.

The US Department of Justice issued an indictment for Halligen, from Surrey, last month, alleging he tried to defraud a London law rm of £1.3m. It claimed 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, debit card transaction and cash machine withdrawals.

The Irishman was arrested at a hotel in Oxford on November 24 where he had been staying for several months under an assumed name. 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 by backers of Mr and Mrs McCann to help in the search for Madeleine, who went missing from an Algarve resort in May 2007 at the age of three.

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