If you caught the American Greed episode about Kevin Halligen on CNBC, you can understand why the installment was dubbed “The Spy Who Scammed Me.”
Halligen, who allegedly posed as a British spy, landed a six-month contract worth nearly $1 million to help find Madeleine McCann, a 3-year-old who disappeared from her bed at a Portuguese resort one night in 2007, according to CNBC.
“The promises were varied,” said former employee Henry Exton, according to CNBC. “But they included that he would have the ability to identify who had used phones on that evening and get satellite imagery of people walking around that night. And it was phenomenal stuff.”
That isn't exactly what happened.
Halligen only produced a Google map in the McCann investigation, Exton said.
As The Washington Post reported in 2012, the Find Madeleine Fund hired Oakley International, Halligen’s U.S.-based company, on a six-month contract that would have Halligen using surveillance and satellite images to search for the missing child.
Exton said that the sum total of Halligen’s work on the case was a printout of a Google map, even though Halligen was spending tens of thousands of dollars on hotel rooms, fine dining, and even a chauffeur, according to CNBC.
In the 2014 documentary The McCanns and The Conman, Halligen denied misappropriating the funds and said the media reports were “gross distortion of what was actually happening,” according to BBC News.
“The print media in particular took this line that really nothing was being done; I was living the high life on the proceeds of the McCann case,” Halligen added. “Trust me, I didn’t so much as buy a new suit. … The money, all of it, is fully accountable. It’s provable.”
Kevin Halligen was sentenced to 41 months in prison in 2013 for a $2.1 million fraud scheme.
In June 2013, Halligen was sentenced to 41 months in prison for defrauding $2.1 million from Netherlands-based commodities trading company Trafigura Beheer BV.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia, Trafigura hired Red Defence International, for which Halligen served as CEO, as a consultant in crisis management after two executives from Trafigura were captured and imprisoned in the Ivory Coast.
“While employed by Trafigura, Halligen claimed to have incurred $2.1 million in expenses related to pursuing a strategy in the United States aimed at convincing the United States to assist in securing the release of the Trafigura executives,” the office stated. “In reality, Halligen spent the money on a home in Great Falls, Va.”
As part of his plea agreement, Halligen had a money laundering charge dismissed but was ordered to pay $2.1 million in restitution to Trafigura.
Halligen died at his home in 2018.
According to BBC News, Halligen died on January 8, 2018, at home in England.
The McCanns and the Conman director Adrian Gatton confirmed the news. “There was blood around the house, probably caused by previous falls when he was either drunk or blacking out,” he said. “His house was full of empty drink bottles. A lot of people wished him ill but his death is almost certainly related to alcoholism.”
The cause of death was later determined to be an acute subdural hemorrhage, as BBC News later reported.