Lib Dems 'checked out' fraudster Michael Brown
Published: 11th Sep 2011 10:35:55
Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has insisted his party went the "extra mile" to check out donor Michael Brown before accepting his money.
Brown - who gave the party £2.4m ahead of the 2005 election - was later convicted of stealing £36m from clients and is now on the run from the police.
The Electoral Commission ruled in 2009 the party could keep the money.
The watchdog denied reports in The Sunday Telegraph that it is considering reopening its inquiry.
"The investigation was closed in 2009 and we have no intention of revisiting it," a spokesman told BBC News.
"If anybody presents us with new evidence, we will look at it."
The Telegraph claims Brown is living under an assumed name in the Dominican Republic, which does not have an extradition treaty with the UK.
Mr Kennedy, who was leader at the time the donation was made, said: "We were very careful, we always were in the Lib Dems, to keep a distance, a buffer zone, over donations."
He said he knew Michael Brown and "had quite a number of dealings with him".
But he added: "I know, or I was told, and I don't doubt the veracity of this at all, that not only were all responsible checks taken before his company made this donation but, indeed, they went the extra mile with the authorities in making checks."
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr show Brown's donation - the biggest in the party's history - had "long since been spent".
Brown, a bogus international bonds dealer, was found guilty in 2008 of defrauding £36m, including £8m from former Manchester Utd chairman Martin Edwards, and given a seven year jail sentence.
He was tried in his absence after skipping bail.
Southwark Crown Court was told he had channelled the gift to the Lib Dems through a company called 5th Avenue Partners.
The Electoral Commission ruled that there was no "reasonable basis" to conclude he had personally donated the money and it was reasonable for the Lib Dems to "have regarded the donations as permissible".
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Lib Dems 'checked out' fraudster Michael Brown. [Online] (Updated 11 Sep 2011)
Available at: http://www.glasgowwired.co.uk/news.php/184891-Lib-Dems-checked-out-fraudster-Michael-Brown [Accessed 21st May 2013]
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