Edinburgh crime: Office manager Emma Hunt funded millionaire lifestyle with embezzled £900,000 from company
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A crooked office manager embezzled more than £900,000 from her employers to fund an extravagant luxury lifestyle - including hiring out a castle for a party and five star holidays abroad.
Emma Hunt stole the massive amount from bosses at an Edinburgh property firm by arranging for tenants to pay their rents into her own bank account for around three years. Hunt, 37, then used the cash to live like a millionaire despite earning just £1800 per month by splashing out on luxury holidays, top class hotels and top of the range cars.
The office boss spent almost £40,000 when she hosted a Halloween party at the 16th century Fenton Tower, near North Berwick, East Lothian, in 2018. She paid £3,000 for her birthday party at Musselburgh Racecourse in 2016 and later paid more than £13,000 for Ladies Day hospitality places for 20 pals at the same racecourse in 2017 and 2018.
Hunt, from Coldstream, Berwickshire, also bought £300 hospitality packages for her and 12 friends at the Scottish Open in 2018. A further £7,180 was then spent on hospitality for 10 people at the Scotland v England Six Nations clash at Murrayfield Stadium. The crooked scheme was eventually uncovered after a tenant queried the payments they were making and bosses at McLean Properties began an investigation in 2019.
The details of Hunt’s lavish three year spending spree were read out as an agreed joint minute of facts before Hunt’s five day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month. She denied the embezzlement allegations between 2016 and 2019 and claimed a manager at the property firm, now deceased, had allowed her to spend the cash in return for her silence.
Hunt claimed she found out the boss was putting up prostitutes in the company’s flats but the jury failed to believe her evidence and found her guilty of embezzling more than £900,000. She returned to the dock for sentencing on Friday, July 28 but the hearing was further deferred to next month after the court heard social work reports had not been completed.
Last month prosecutor Connor Muir revealed further details of how Hunt spent the cash including paying more than £23,000 to stay at top class hotels in Edinburgh including the plush Principal and the five star Caledonian Hotel. Mr Muir said Hunt paid £7,944 for a Caribbean holiday for her and her mother between December 31, 2018, and January 10, 2019.
She also spent £1,674 on flights for a weekend trip to Dublin in 2018 and paid for accommodation at the city’s exclusive Westbury Hotel. Hunt paid £19,500 for a new Audi S1 Quattro and then traded it in and paid a further £35,000 for a BMW M2 in 2016.
The court was told she spent £6,730.05 at the Louis Vuitton fashion store and had made 45 transactions totalling £91,596 to her brother’s farming contracting business. The jury heard Hunt’s role at McLean Properties included controlling the financial paperwork concerning properties and she used her own bank account details for new tenants to pay their rents into.
She also took deposits from student tenants who were not usually charged this fee and amended invoices from firms carrying out services including maintenance. Hunt was found guilty of embezzling £899,164.77 between May 31, 2016 and January 20, 2019. She was also found guilty of pretending to 11 customers that they had to pay deposits for flats when no sums were due and obtained £7,295 by fraud.
Hunt was also found guilty of transferring money into her brother’s account to pay for items including a bulldozer and purchasing goods, services, hospitality, holidays and cars.