Trusted Kenneth Hunt – who took funds behind his clients’ backs – was made bankrupt after a petition was filed against him by the Law Society
A trusted solicitor who had to pay back thousands of pounds after running a £1m fraud has now been made bankrupt.
Kenneth Hunt was jailed in 2012 after siphoning money from his clients’ accounts to keep his firm going.
The 66-year-old – whose business portfolio included the development of Newcastle’s Quayside – was caught in the “perfect storm” when the global economic crisis struck, the court heard at the time.
And by the time he was finally arrested while on holiday in the Caribbean, the lawyer had siphoned off £1,049,000.
Now it has emerged that he has been made bankrupt, after a petition was filed against him by The Law Society.
He was also disqualified from being a company director last year.
Most of the cash Hunt took was to prop up his ailing firm as the economic and banking crisis began to bite. But Hunt personally pocketed cash as well.
After a detailed investigation into his finances, he was ordered to pay back every penny that he had left. Hunt was found to have taken more than £64,000 himself, and was ordered to pay back £30,000 in a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing in 2012.
Earlier that year, he had been given a four-year sentence after admitting fraud by abuse of position, but the sentence was later cut to three years by appeal judges.
His business partner Barbara Gayton, of South Gosforth, Newcastle, was jailed for two years for her part in the fraud.
The sentencing hearing in 2012 was told how Hunt, of Alnwick, Northumberland, had staged a “flagrant breach of trust” by moving lump sums from client accounts without their knowledge.
When police went to arrest him in late 2009, he had paid more than £30,000 for the financing of his cars.
Hunt repeatedly claimed to have the means to repay the debts, stating that he had £5m invested in companies, £2.5m worth of assets and was a wealthy man.
By July 2010 – nearly 12 months after an investigation was first launched – he said that he was in due diligence to raise £10m which would repay his debts. But that money never appeared, and he was just desperate to keep his reputation for success intact and preserve his lifestyle, the court heard.
Hunt himself told police he did not want to see his distinguished career end “in a mess”.