Fraudster who gave record sum to Lib Dems weeks away from UK jail

Convicted Scottish multi-millionaire fraudster and Liberal Democrat donor Michael Brown is set to face an extradition hearing in Spain early next week.

Convicted Scottish multi-millionaire fraudster and Liberal Democrat donor Michael Brown is set to face an extradition hearing in Spain early next week.

Mr Brown was arrested in the Dominican Republic in January and flown to Madrid on Saturday where he was being handed over to British officials.

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He was detained in the Dominican town of Punta Cana over an unrelated fraud charge.

Mr Brown fled the UK to the Caribbean after being convicted of fraud in 2008 and was sentenced in his absence to seven years in jail.

A City of London Police spokesman said: “City of London Police will be taking the appropriate steps to bring him back to the UK, via a European Arrest Warrant.”

Detective Superintendent Bob Wishart said: “The City of London Police is pleased that after four years evading British justice, Mr Brown is a step closer to returning to the UK to start his prison sentence.”

A spokesman for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) said: “The process would be for an individual to be taken to Madrid for an extradition hearing.

“Once the extradition is agreed there’s a ten-day period for him to be extradited to the UK.

“We would expect the process to start early next week.”

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

He had been living on the Caribbean island as Darren Nally, officials in the Caribbean said.

An international manhunt was launched when Mr Brown absconded 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’ election war chest and also blew a large slice of his ill-gotten gains on an “extravagant” lifestyle.

Dominican police said Mr Brown was also charged with defrauding people in Punta Cana, but the alleged victims dropped their complaints so he could be extradited.

An Electoral Commission inquiry in 2009 found the Lib Dems accepted the fraudster’s donation in good faith, clearing the party of all wrongdoing.

Mr Brown had all the trappings of a highly successful international businessman – the private jet, an ocean-going yacht and a list of clients that he claimed included royalty.

However, the Glasgow-born convicted fraudster, who posed as a bond dealer, was weaving a web of deceit that fooled many of the world’s wealthy movers and shakers.

He claimed to have been educated at Gordonstoun and St Andrews University – in fact he failed his “O” level maths and had a City and Guilds in catering from Glasgow College of Food Technology.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: “First I should say I’m very pleased he’s coming back to serve his sentence. This is a convicted fraudster.

“Secondly I should stress that this is something which happened as far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned before I was even an MP, let alone Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

“And what I’ve been told is that the Electoral Commission in 2009 looked at this exhaustively, as far as the receipt of that money by the Liberal Democrats from one of his companies, and they categorically concluded that the money was received in good faith and all the controls, all the checks that should have been made were reasonably made by the Liberal Democrats at the time.

“If we’d been shown wanting on those accounts then of course we should pay the money back.”

A Lib Dem party spokesman said: “We completely welcome any further steps to bring this man to justice.”

Charles Kennedy, who was party leader at the time the donation was made, said in September his party had gone the “extra mile” to check out Mr Brown before accepting his money.

“We were very careful, we always were in the Lib Dems, to keep a distance, a buffer zone, over donations,” he said.