A man from Gravesend has been ordered to return almost £73,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act after scamming 10 victims through a complex investment fraud.

Lee Barnett, 36, from, Gravesend, and Ashley Hunte, 41, from London, committed a number of fraud and money laundering offences between 2014 and 2017 through a business named Britannia Direct Solutions (BDS).

The business, owned by Barnett, persuaded victims to part with sums of money on the promise that their investments would be secured in a London City Bond (LCB) account.

An in-depth investigation by Kent Police and financial analysis of bank accounts and other financial documents revealed that, in some examples, the alleged investments were never made by BDS. In instances where investments were made, the value did not match the sums paid by victims.

On Monday 25 April 2022, Barnett and Hunte were both sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for fraud and money laundering. The men returned to court on Wednesday 21 December 2022 where Barnett was ordered to pay £72,982 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The court was unable to recoup funds from Hunte as he has no available assets, but this will be revisited if his financial situation changes. The judge also ruled that each victim will be returned a percentage of the funds available. 

Facing double jail term

Failure to repay the agreed amount within three months will result in Barnett receiving a further 18 months’ sentence.

Detective Inspector Dave Godfrey of Kent Police’s Economic Crime Unit said: ‘Barnett and Hunte knowingly defrauded their victims of large sums of money for their own greed and financial gain. We are pleased that the victims will receive compensation for their losses and that this case offers a stark reminder to offenders that crime does not pay.

‘The Proceeds of Crime Act enables our financial investigators to ensure any money potentially acquired through criminal means is not used to fund further unlawful activity.’

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By Ed

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