IN a joint operation, British and Spanish police yesterday swooped to seize assets belonging to the Majorca-based multi-millionaire Michael Brown who is currently in custody in the UK where he is to face 53 charges of fraud brought against him by one of the world's leading banks. A British team of six, including four members of the City of London's serious crime squad, assisted by officers from the National Police fraud and serious crime squad, yesterday raided the two Majorcan homes of the Scottish tax-exile who bank rolled the Liberal Democrats at the last election with a £2.5 million donation. Police are understood to have started their operation at Brown's Esporlas home before impounding his yacht moored in the Port of Andratx and moving on to his Palma offices and his other property in Santa Ponsa. Police are said to have seized his Porsche Cayanne, various paintings and items of great value from his two properties.
Police, including two British detectives, spent most of yesterday morning investigating Brown's 5th Avenue Partners office in Palma.
Detectives are believed to have investigated the hard drives of Brown's computers and a number of monitors. Hard drives and keyboards were later taken away for further investigation by the joint Anglo-Spanish team. Various boxes of documents were also removed as well as Brown's contact spool, audio and stereo equipment and a large canvas bag.
Sources in London yesterday told the Bulletin that since Brown was arrested at his Esporlas home last month, British and Spanish police have been exchanging information to help each other further their investigations. Brown is apparently under investigation by the Spanish police as well as in the UK.
Brown was extradited from Madrid to London on Tuesday and on Wednesday appeared before Bow Street Magistrates Court where he was remanded in custody until August 2 when he will appear at Southwark Crown Court. He is understood to have appeared before a closed hearing yesterday in an attempt to be granted bail, but failed.
The 53 charges against Brown are understood to include perjury and perverting the course of justice.
City of London Police want to question him over allegations that he lied to get a new British passport.
His six-passenger executive jet worth an estimated $4 million has already been impounded at Biggin Hill airfield as part of the bank's civil action to temporarily freeze Brown's assets. Brown, who set up a new home in Majorca with his wife Sharon in 1999, could face life inprisonment if found guilty as charged. His wife was in court with him yesterday. However, Brown made it clear from the moment of his arrest that he wanted to get back to Britain “to face the music” as quickly as possible as he strongly denies fraud. A spokesperson for Brown has said that he will “vigorously” defend himself.
In a statement issued by the City of London economic crime department, from which two detectives accompanied Brown back to London, it said “the man arrested is currently under investigation by the City of London's money-laundering investigation unit in connection with large-scale suspected fraud.” It would appear that Brown may be part of a much larger international scam and that he is not the mastermind.
Police have confirmed this week that further arrests have been made in the UK in connection with the “on-going” investigation.