Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Police seek return of Lib Dem donor

Police from the UK are likely to seek the return of multi-millionaire fraudster and Liberal Democrat donor Michael Brown who is being held in the Dominican Republic after years on the run.

He is wanted in Britain to serve a seven-year prison sentence imposed in his absence after he was convicted of fraud at Southwark Crown Court in 2008.

Brown donated about £2.4 million to the Lib Dems ahead of the 2005 general election - its largest donation to date.

A City of London Police spokesman said on Friday: "We are pleased to hear that Michael Brown has been detained by authorities in the Dominican Republic, and are currently establishing contact with them to find out further details about his arrest. Clearly, at some stage we will look for his return to the United Kingdom, so he can serve the sentence for the fraud offences for which he has been convicted in this country."

An international manhunt was launched when Brown fled after stealing nearly £8 million from the former chairman of Manchester United.

He posed as a highly successful bond dealer and claimed connections with royalty to steal the money from Martin Edwards. He secretly used investors' money to fund the record donation to the Lib Dems' 2005 election war chest and also blew a large slice of his ill-gotten gains on an "extravagant" lifestyle.

His former solicitor, Jamil Ahmed, said his arrest on the Caribbean island was unrelated to his previous crimes but would not disclose what the offence was.

The Guardian reported that Brown is believed to have been detained after he entered the island under a false identity. The Dominican Republic has no extradition treaty with Britain.

A Lib Dem spokesman said: "The Electoral Commission inquiry in 2009 found that the party accepted the donation in good faith, and were in no way at fault. It cleared the party of all wrongdoing and accepted that, at the time of the donation, 5th Avenue Partners Ltd was a permitted donor."

But Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East, said the money Brown donated should be paid back, saying: "The Lib Dems took a massive donation from this man - he should pay the money back out of decency. Michael Brown's victims want their money back, and the Lib Dems have £2.4 million of it."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph