UK Politics

Lib Dem donor Michael Brown to be extradited to UK

Michael Brown
Image caption Brown was sentenced in his absence in November 2008 to seven years in jail

Convicted fraudster and former Lib Dem donor Michael Brown is facing a hearing in Spain for extradition to the UK.

He was flown to Madrid on Saturday to be handed to UK officials after being arrested in the Dominican Republic.

In 2008 Brown, who had gone on the run to the Dominican Republic from the UK, was jailed in his absence for seven years for stealing £36m from clients after posing as a bond dealer.

Brown, 46, donated £2.4m to the Lib Dems before the 2005 general election.

Party leader Nick Clegg said he was "very pleased" he would now serve his sentence.

Brown was arrested in January in the tourist town of Punta Cana over an unrelated fraud charge.

Police in the Dominican Republic said the Briton had been living in the Caribbean state under the name of Darren Nally before his arrest in January.

'Very careful'

Brown went on the run, sparking an international manhunt, after stealing millions from clients, including nearly £8m from Manchester United's ex-chairman Martin Edwards.

He had posed as a highly successful bond dealer and claimed connections with royalty.

Dominican Republic police said the Briton had been also charged with defrauding people in Punta Cana, although the alleged victims dropped their complaints so he could be extradited.

The island does not have an extradition treaty with the UK.

A City of London Police spokesman said: "Michael Brown was deported from the Dominican Republic and landed in Madrid on Saturday morning, accompanied by officers from the Dominican Republic.

"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.

"We hope that him facing justice will bring some closure to the victims who suffered as a result of his frauds."

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

"Once that extradition is agreed there's a 10-day period for him to be extradited to the UK. We would expect the process to start early next week."

Brown's donation to the Liberal Democrats' election war chest - its largest ever donation - was funded through the use of investors' money.

The Electoral Commission ruled in 2009 the party could keep the money.

It found the Lib Dems had accepted the fraudster's donation in good faith and cleared the party of all wrongdoing.

Mr Clegg, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "I'm very pleased he's coming back to serve his sentence. He's a convicted fraudster."

But, he said the party would not return the money it had received the money from Brown as it had accepted it "in good faith".

A Lib Dem spokesman said: "We support any moves 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 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.

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