Trafigura's Would-Be Saviour in Dock

1 October 2009 
Intelligence Online

Hired to spring the chief executive of Trafigura from jail in Abidjan, the Oakley company now finds itself under attack by the trader’s lawyer. Founder of the private security firm Red Defense International, Britain’s Kevin Halligen had until the first of September to respond to a suit filed by lawyer Mark Aspinall that called upon him to pay USD 1.3 million. He let the deadline pass and was thereby declared in default by the U.S. district court for the District of Colombia.

Intelligence Online reported in its 576th issue how Aspinall recruited Halligen, who took part indirectly in a MI5 operation in Northern Ireland, to help organize the release of his client, Claude Dauphin, founder of Trafigura, from the Maca prison in Abidjan. Dauphin had been arrested in Ivory Coast following the unloading of toxic waste by the vessel Probo Koala that had been chartered by Trafigura.

The rescue operation mounted by Red Defense, which involved using a Falcon corporate jet and South African mercenaries, was finally cancelled in February, 2007. Dauphin was released a few months later against payment of USD 198 million.

Following that episode, Aspinall and Halligen remained in contact and, in September, 2007, the lawyer invested USD 500,000 in two firms founded by Halligen in the United States, Oakley International Group (OIG) and Oakley Strategic Services (OSS). 

Six months later, he lent USD 250,000 to Halligen to replenish the coffers of the two firms, whose managing director was the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics, Andre Hollis. The latter is also a lawyer in the firm Van Scoyoc Associates.

Despite his investments, Aspinall never had access to the books of OIG or OSS, nor was his loan repaid. Under pressure from the lawyer to make good on his promise, Halligen instead left for Italy last December, and has yet to return.

His two companies declared bankruptcy and Aspinall, the only stakeholder who remained creditworthy, had to pay off their debts. To recover money he lost in the venture, Aspinall filed suit (1-09-cv-00655) against Halligen. But even if he wins his case, he probably won't get his money back.

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