that they did have experience in tracking down 300 missing people,
that they were able to put 20 to 40 operatives on the front line of enquiries,
that they were making enquiries in various countries - and
that all the invoices for work and travel were genuine.
It would follow therefore that the fraud committed by M3 on the 'Fund' is a serious crime, which should be reported and investigated. But several problems arise from this view. The Directors of the Fund include amongst others a highly experienced Commercial law specialist solicitor, a Consultant at the height of his career, an accountant (retd.), another solicitor and Coroner (retd.), and behind the entire thing, a hugely successful multimillionaire businessman. And the Contract can only be awarded after Due Diligence by one of the leading London firms of solicitors, who specialise in Charity law and are fully aware of the pitfalls, AND by the leading firm of accountants who do the same thing.
Bates Wells Brathwaite make this wonderful claim on their website, where they talk about General trustee duties:
Carrying out due diligence;
Monitoring the use of funds;
Keeping records of actions taken.
And the Fund's accountants Haysmacintyre are even more boastful, and under the circumstances even more risible:
We see the big picture and spot the tiniest detail.
They have Partners with specialist knowledge of Fraud - consider Phil Salmon is a Chartered Tax Adviser and has specialised in VAT for over 23 years. He became a partner at Haysmacintyre in 2013 and heads up our VAT Department. Like many indirect task specialist, he started his career with HM Customs & Excise, initially as a visiting VAT officer, before moving on to specialist fraud teams.
Is it likely that NOT ONE of these people even raised an eyebrow, that not one murmured something about wanting a list of the names of the operatives, that not one asked for a breakdown of the invoiced amounts. Is this credible?
They just paid out half a million pounds of someone else's money and then did nothing when it was revealed they had been defrauded..?
And that not ONE of them had a pang of conscience about the fate of the little girl M3 were supposed to have been looking for during all the years that had been wasted?
Can we really just accept that all these people are jointly and severally guilty of gross incompetence and professional negligence?
And further, that once the fraud was exposed, and the details communicated to the Directors of the Fund - not vaguely, but with concrete examples and details of where the evidence is located - that not one of them raised an eyebrow and sent so much as a polite email asking for their money to be refunded..?
Trustees are responsible for preventing and detecting fraud ...
WHAT IS AN ANTI-FRAUD POLICY?
A good anti-fraud policy should Ensure:
- There are appropriate measures to prevent and deter fraud.
- There are necessary procedures to detect fraud.
- Employees are encouraged to take responsibility and report any suspicions of fraud.
- All instances of suspected fraud are investigated.
- Appropriate disciplinary, civil or criminal proceedings are undertaken.
- All suspected fraud is reported to the appropriate authorities.
But they didn't. Why not. Gross professional negligence, incompetence, stupidity..?
But strangely that may be their only defence, since the second broad option is far more serious. It would follow, if none of the above were incompetent, negligent or stupid, that they were operating to instructions specifically to ignore what they were being told. In other words:
THERE WAS NO FRAUD
It would follow that everything that happened was wrongly interpreted by an honest detective as being fraudulent, when in fact it was part of a wider overall plan of which he knew nothing, and only gradually becoming aware. Certainly his interpretation of Marco's words and actions, and subsequently of Brian Kennedy's and Gerry McCann's refusal even to reply to his email in which he details his thoughts are most telling.
Why anyone would go to the lengths of pretending to do a search across an entire continent, and submit false documentation to move half a million pounds from one account to another, when in fact the expenses actually incurred were significantly smaller is an open question and one which it might be dangerous to speculate upon.
But we are then drawn to a posted comment we remember from many years ago. A native Spanish speaker phoned M3 and spoke to Marco direct. There is no question of 'loss in translation' or misunderstanding. His report is quite clear and has been in the public domain for a long time:
It took me a while but in the end I managed to speak to the Managing Director in clear Spanish. I asked how it was that a Detective Agency of their standing could make such a ridiculous assertion making it known 'they knew Madeleine was held in Morocco and they were going to get her'. He tried to wriggle out of it but in the end he said 'DONT ASK ME. THAT'S THE PARENTS' STRATEGY'.
Now we have This Chapter of This Book and as with a jigsaw puzzle - it fits perfectly. The two lawyers who set up the Fund all those years ago are:
Rosamund McCarthy - advises a wide range of charities, foundations and public benefit organisations (national and international) on establishment, campaigning, governance, philanthropy, fund-raising and Enterprise activities. She also advises on mergers, restructures and incorporations. Her clients include start-ups, Household name charities, international foundations, campaigning bodies, membership bodies, royal charter bodies and corporate foundations. Rosamund enjoys working across a broad range of sectors including children and young people, the arts, education, health, human rights, the humanities, international development and faith-based charities.
Rosamund is recommended by Chambers and Legal 500, was nominated as a Super Lawyer in 2014 and appears in the 2015 edition of Best Lawyers in the UK.
Publications and lectures: contributing author to 'The Fundraisers Guide to the Law'.
Philip Kirkpatrick has been with BWB for the whole of his career, qualifying in 1995 and becoming a partner in 2000. He then became co-head of the Charity and Social Enterprise team in 2011. Philip advises charities and social enterprises on numerous aspects of charity, corporate and commercial law and has extensive experience in: constitutional and structural work including mergers, incorporations and other reorganisations, joint ventures and other forms of collaborative working, fund-raising and trading, charity formations, charity financing, business establishment, acquisition and sale, public sector contracting and legal governance.
These are not back-street firms from a small town in Leicestershire. These are the top lawyers and accountants in this sphere.
AND COLLECTIVELY THEY DID NOTHING - Who told them not to?