FBI searches for Madeleine detective

22 November 2009
The Observer
Ben Quinn

A British security consultant who was paid pounds 300,000 to assist efforts by Kate and Gerry McCann to find their daughter Madeleine is being sought by the FBI over an alleged pounds 1.3m fraud. A pounds 500,000 contract given to Kevin Halligen's private detective agency, Oakley International, to help with the search for the missing child was terminated last year after a major benefactor of the McCanns expressed concerns about the quality of the firm's work. However, Halligen is now wanted by the FBI following an indictment issued by US authorities in connection with allegations that he defrauded a London law firm of money that was supposed to be used to lobby for the release of two executives from the Dutch company Trafigura, arrested in the Ivory Coast.

He is accused of using the money to buy a mansion in Great Falls, Virginia, that sources close to the McCanns believe may also have been funded by money intended to be spent on efforts to find Madeleine.

Halligen, an Irishman living in the UK who presented himself in private security industry circles as a former intelligence operative, owes pounds 100,000 to others who carried out work on the Madeleine case, the Sunday Times reported.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said:
"Oakley International was contracted to help with the search for Madeleine. Due diligence was carried out at every stage and payment was only made for work properly carried out. It was only towards the end of the six-month contract that question marks were raised about delivery in some areas and the contract was terminated."

The McCanns did not contact the police about Halligen, who visited their home, but his behaviour aroused suspicions at an early stage among the couple and their advisers. Oakley International secured the contract from the Find Madeleine Fund to monitor the phone hotline, sift through CCTV footage of possible sightings and carry out investigative work.

However, it was terminated after the British double-glazing millionaire Brian Kennedy, who has underwritten the fund's work, raised concerns. Documents reportedly show that Halligen's company was withdrawing large amounts of money for personal use.

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