By Daniel Boffey and Mark Hollingsworth
Last updated at 10:15 PM on 21st November 2009
A private detective whose company was paid up to £500,000 from publicly donated funds to find Madeleine McCann has been charged with fraud.
Kevin Halligen, 48, is wanted in America by the FBI for allegedly conning a law firm out of £1.3 million by claiming he could help free two men jailed in war-torn Africa. It is claimed he instead spent the money on a mansion.
However, he has not been arrested because US officials do not know where he is.
In another case, a US court has ordered Halligen to repay a loan of £2million to a business partner. And a British lawyer is claiming £1.3million after investing in Halligen’s company but receiving no return on the cash.
Halligen’s firm, Oakley International, was hired by the Madeleine Fund but was dropped after six months over claims he was making little progress and spending too much.
Halligen, who claims a wealth of contacts in the British security services and FBI, said he had infiltrated a paedophile ring in Belgium. He regularly visited Kate and Gerry McCann to give updates on the hunt for Madeleine, who was three when she vanished from a holiday flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007.
In the months after Halligen was ditched four investigators demanded another £200,000 from the fund claiming they had not been paid by him. Halligen’s indictment is likely to dismay thousands who gave money to the Madeleine Fund.
A document filed in the District Court of Columbia claims Halligen took money saying his firm could help secure the release of two executives from the Dutch company Trafigura imprisoned in the Ivory Coast in 2007. The men were arrested following the alleged unloading of toxic waste.
Halligen is said to have proposed a rescue operation by flying in South African mercenaries but it was later cancelled. The men were freed a few months later following a reported £120million payment.
Halligen was last seen in Italy and has allegedly left a trail of debts in America. The Madeleine Fund received more than £1million in donations after her disappearance but was hugely depleted by Halligen’s services. There are concerns the fund will be empty by the end of this year.
The McCanns had previously hired Barcelona-based detective agency Metodo 3 on a reported £50,000 a month. But the company lost credibility with the couple when its head of operations claimed he knew who had kidnapped Madeleine and hoped to have her home by Christmas.
After Halligen, the McCanns hired two former British detectives, David Edgar and Arthur Cowley. In August, Mr Edgar appealed for sightings of an Australian ‘Victoria Beckham lookalike’. But a Mail on Sunday investigation revealed the detectives had failed to make the most basic of inquiries in Barcelona where the woman was seen.
The McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, insisted the fund had not been duped. Two phone numbers previously used by Halligen were answered by a man who said he had no idea who Kevin Halligen was.
in Daily Mail
Related: 'A Censurable Censure' and 'Mark Hollingsworth Investigates The McCann Files'
First Published here: Former McCann detective Kevin Halligen Indicted for Fraud and Money laundering