The Spy Who Conned Me

Must read Sunday Times (of London) story on Kevin R. Halligen, a British security consultant who conned the Washington defense and security establishment.

Halligen was indicted earlier this month in Washington on fraud charges. Apparently, everything about Halligen was a con. He passed himself off as a former British secret agent. Even his 2007 wedding to a Washington lawyer was a scam; according to the Times, the “priest” was really the caterer.

One of the guests was Andre Hollis, a lobbyist who became chief executive of Halligen’s Washington company. “It was like a global intelligence debutante ball,” he said. “And nobody knew it was fake.”

Not even the best man, Colonel John Garrett, a defence lobbyist for the blue-chip Washington law firm Patton Boggs, was let in on the secret. Nor was the most powerful guest in the room, Noel Koch, a security expert who has now become a deputy undersecretary in the defence department.

He said: “We found out later that it was not a real wedding. The priest was an actor.”

Halligen’s firm, Oakley International Group was paid $2.1 million to secure the release of two executives of Trafigura, a Dutch oil trading firm.

The executives were held in an Ivory Coast jail after a ship chartered by Trafigura dumped tons of toxic sludge in the Ivorian port of Abidjan that was blamed in 17 deaths and thousands of injuries.

Instead of freeing the Trafigura executives, the money went toward the purchase of Halligen’s mansion in Great Falls, Va.

Update: Halligen was arrested at a hotel in Oxford, England where he had been staying for months under the name Richard Hall. He is being held without bail and is awaiting extradition to the US.

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