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Hampstead businessman 'swindled' Man Utd chairman

PUBLISHED: 14:21 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:37 07 September 2010

A HAMPSTEAD Lib Dem backer who donated £2.4million to the party boasted of royal links while swindling a former Manchester United chairman, a court heard this week. Michael Brown, 42, of Templewood Avenue, has been accused of conning $12.7million out of M

A HAMPSTEAD Lib Dem backer who donated £2.4million to the party boasted of royal links while swindling a former Manchester United chairman, a court heard this week.

Michael Brown, 42, of Templewood Avenue, has been accused of conning $12.7million out of Martin Edwards, chairman of the club from 1980 to 2002, claiming to be an international finance trader.

The Glasgow-born businessman claimed to have been schooled in the same place as Prince Charles when he had actually gone to a Glasgow college and said he had met Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace, the court heard.

Prosecutor Martin Edmunds QC said: "He was claiming to be, you may think, very successful. He would claim his clients were vetted by the US embassy and special branch before they invested with him.

"He talked about his donations to the Liberal Democrats, about his friends at the US embassy and visits to Buckingham Palace to meet Prince Andrew.

"He talked himself up. That was the sort of image he wanted to project to investors."

Brown is facing charges of obtaining property by deception, three counts of transferring criminal property, three counts of theft, furnishing false information and perverting the course of justice.

It is alleged that rather than making the investments, Brown used clients' money to fund a lavish lifestyle including private jet, yacht, chauffeur-driven Range Rover and a second flat in Mayfair.

He is being tried in his absence on a string of charges which are alleged to have taken place between February 9, 2005 and April 17, 2006.

Mr Edwards gave evidence to Southwark Crown Court last Tuesday (November 11) and detailed his first meetings with Brown.

He said: "He said he had been in bond trading for a number of years and had experience. He said he had a number of bonds that he ran and showed us paperwork which showed that they were successful."

Mr Edwards told jurors he was convinced by the alleged fraudster and signed the contract, later transferring $10million to an account which he believed was in his own name.

A few months later, when he received a bank statement from Brown which showed his investment had grown, he invested more.

On Thursday an Australian banker who worked for Brown for a short time in 2005 said he saw no proof that Brown had done any bond trading on behalf of his clients.

Mark Ellis, who worked at Brown's Mayfair offices between April and October 2005, told the court he couldn't say with any "surety" that Brown had done any dealing. The case continues.

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