Kenneth James Campbell was banned from being a company director at The Court of Session after “swindling” £2.8m ($3.5m, €3.3m) from investors who believed they were investing in an oil and gas venture in the US, according to the Insolvency Service.
Campbell was sole director of HGEC Capital Ltd, a company which claimed to invest in petroleum and natural gas extraction, from its incorporation in March 2018 until it went into liquidation in February 2020.
As Campbell is sequestrated – the Scottish equivalent of being bankrupt – recovery of the remaining money has not been possible.
His 14-year disqualification, which began on 7 September 2023, will prevent him from acting as a director and becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.
An Insolvency Service investigation was triggered after complaints from investors to the company’s administrators following HCEG Capital’s demise.
The court heard that Campbell had sought investment in the company from clients between June 2018 until it folded in February 2020.
But investigators discovered that HGEC had “operated as a Ponzi-like scheme, with Campbell using new funds to make negligible interest payments to existing investors”.
Most of the money was sent to third parties, and hundreds of thousands of pounds was paid to Campbell himself, with only around £430,000 invested in the intended scheme.
Investigators also found that Campbell paid himself £194,000, and payments of £360,000 were paid to consultants in HGEC. The total loss to investors when the company folded was £2.8m.
The Insolvency Service also found no evidence of wrongdoing by anyone other than Campbell, who had been solely responsible for the company’s finances.
Lost life savings
Rob Clarke, Chief Investigator of Insolvent Investigations North at the Insolvency Service, said: “Many of Kenneth Campbell’s victims are members of the public who lost their life savings due to his deceit.
“Campbell dishonestly took money from people at a time when he knew no investment would be made, and the lengthy disqualification ordered by the court illustrates the seriousness of his actions.
“This ban should act as a strong deterrent to others who consider doing similar, and assure the public that the Insolvency Service will take the strongest action where such fraudulent actions are concerned.”