A respected businessman and former Hull KR director narrowly avoided jail last week after fraudulently obtaining £300,000 from a charitable foundation, more than a third of which he pumped into the club.
Marc Hackney was appointed as a club director on 21 February 2018, but resigned after just over three months service with the club on 7 June 2018.
He appeared at Hull Crown Court last Tuesday after having previously pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and one of forgery.
The other club directors had no idea that Hackney had hatched a plot to gain the financial liquidity he needed to provide the money.
Hackney, 52, of Kingswood, Hull, set up an apparently successful wealth management company Vobis in 2009, but while he had was described as having plenty of assets, he had little immediate cash.
Being a Hull KR director put him under financial strain, but he didn’t want to give up his position.
After taking on the management of a then 79-year-old client’s charitable foundation, which had been created to help fund Great Ormond Street Hospital and Cancer Research, Hackney saw a chance to gain immediate cash.
He set up a bank account that allowed him to make withdrawals from the foundation into which his client had put more than £1 million. Her idea was to use the interest to help fund her chosen charities.
Hackney failed to consult with the other trustee and even forged her signature.
In February 2018, at the time he was made a director of the club, he made withdrawals totalling £300,000. The following month, two further attempts to withdraw £100,000 on each occasion were made.
When contacted by the bank to query the client’s signature, Hackney said she suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and her handwriting could be shaky. The bank accepted the explanation.
In August 2018, the client was shown the form for the bank account and confirmed it was not her signature and she did not recognise the form.
Her solicitors carried out a review of the foundation and uncovered Hackney’s fraud and forgery.
He put more than £100,000 into Hull KR and also used the fraudulently-obtained money to pay his own taxes and put some of it towards an extension of the Vobis building in Hull.
In his defence, Hackney claimed his investments were loans, which would provide better interest for the foundation.
However, Hull KR owner Neil Hudgell told the court the loans were effectively gifts as the club could only pay them back if there was a surplus at the end of the financial year. He said there had never been a surplus in 15 years at the club.
The court was told all the money has since been repaid with interest. Hackney had to sell his shares in Vobis and liquidate other assets in order to do so.
He was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, for each offence to run concurrently. He will also have to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Gurdial Singh said: “Until about five minutes ago, I had decided to lock you up, but I am just persuaded to suspend the sentence.”