UK fraudster and Lib Dem donor held in Dominican Republic

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A convicted British fraudster who donated £2.4 million to the Liberal Democrat party has been arrested in the Dominican Republic several years after going on the run, London police said Friday.

A London court sentenced Michael Brown in his absence to seven years in prison after he was convicted in 2008 of fraud, including the theft of millions of pounds from Manchester United's former chairman.

He donated the equivalent of $3.7 million or 2.9 million euros to Britain's third party in the run-up to the 2005 general election.

The Lib Dems were not in power at the time but have since entered government by forming a coalition with the Conservatives following the 2010 election.

City of London Police said in a statement: "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."

Britain has no extradition treaty with the Dominican Republic.

Brown stole nearly £8 million from Man United's ex-chairman Martin Edwards by posing as a bond dealer and claiming connections to royalty.

The Lib Dems said the election watchdog had cleared the party of any wrongdoing over the donation, as Brown was a permitted donor at the time.

"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," said a party spokesman.

© 2012 AFP

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