Caught: Fugitive broker who coaxed Man Utd Chairman out of millions

Caught: Fugitive broker who coaxed Man Utd Chairman out of millions



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A man who posed as a high-powered financial broker and swindled nearly £40m from clients, including £8 million from Manchester United’s ex-chairman, Martin Edwards, has been arrested after three years on the run.

Multi-millionaire Michael Brown, 45, was found guilty of theft, fraud and money laundering at London’s Southwark Crown Court back in 2008 but jumped bail before his trial and went on the run. An arrest warrant was subsequently issued and he was sentenced in his absence to seven years in jail for stealing £36 million from clients, reported the Mirror.

The convicted conman, originally from Glasgow, was arrested and detained on Friday in the holiday resort of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, where he is known locally as Darren Patrick Nally, the name believed to be on a fraudulent passport with which he is said to have entered the country, described the BBC.

Back in 2008 the BBC explained the court heard how Brown had spent the millions remaining to fund an "extravagant lifestyle," pay business expenses and keep other investors happy with "pretend" returns.

Martin Edmunds, QC, prosecuting at the time, said Brown rented a £49,000-a-year Mayfair apartment where he "conducted negotiations" with Martin Edwards, the former chairman of Manchester United, whom he stole nearly £8 million.

His multi-million pound "spending spree" included an impressive office in the same area, and a garage of upmarket cars, including a Range Rover with the number plate 5 AVE, a Bentley and a Porsche.

Brown also spent £2.5m on a private jet, £400,000 on an ocean-going yacht and £327,000 on an entertainment system for his home in Majorca.

In light of his latest arrest, victims of the conman, who also posed as a bond dealer and claimed royal connections to steal the cash, are now set to launch a fresh battle to recover their money.

The fraudster also used £2.4m of the stolen money to fund the Liberal Democrats before the 2005 general election - the party's largest ever donation to date. The party was cleared of any wrongdoing, but Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, faced fresh demands over the weekend to repay the donation received from the fraudster back to his victims.

The Daily Telegraph stated that a senior Lib Dem source admitted that the party would be unable to return the money without risking bankruptcy as the fund has been spent long ago. “I don’t think there’s any political party that has £2.4 million sloshing around in its bank account,” the source said.

However, an official stance in response to the arrest was issued by a Lib Dem spokesperson, who 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, Michael Brown was a permitted donor.

"There is no indication that the Electoral Commission will revise its opinion in this matter but any arrest abroad should lead to his extradition to the UK."

An international manhunt was launched back in 2008 for his arrest but according to a local prosecutor in Higuey, Dominican Republic, Brown was only caught after a warrant was issued for his arrest last February for not paying rent on a Punta Cana multi-million pound apartment he lived in.

At a court hearing, Nally, aka Brown, was remanded in custody for 12 months to allow the allegations to be investigated and the prosecutor to decide if there is a case to answer. A charge of money laundering is also being considered.

UK police are holding talks with ­authorities in the ­Dominican ­Republic, which has no ­extradition treaty with Britain, over Brown’s ­return to face justice.

A City of London Police spokesman said yesterday: "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."

But a senior City of London Police spokesman has hinted that someone entering on false documents could be deported to their home nation, stating: "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."

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