Texas oilman Lamar Hunt paid $17 million Thursday to a Peruvian minerals trading company to partially settle a jury verdict that he and his brothers conspired to manipulate and corner the silver market nine years ago.
Approved by U.S. District Judge Morris E. Lasker in a 10-minute public hearing, the agreement between Hunt and Minpeco takes the multimillionaire out of a bitter legal battle that began in December, 1981. Right after the hearing, an attorney for Minpeco accepted a check for the full $17 million from Hunt's lawyers.
Two months ago, Minpeco won a $132-million jury verdict against the Hunt brothers--Nelson Bunker, William Herbert and Lamar--and two other defendants, Bermuda-based International Metal Investment Co. and Mahmoud Fustok, a businessman.
The state-run Peruvian company suffered heavy losses during the speculative bubble and subsequent crash of the international silver market in late 1979 and early 1980, and the jury was persuaded that fraud and illegal speculation by the defendants caused the losses.
Both Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt have filed for personal bankruptcy and have refused to pay the verdict while it is appealed. Mark A. Cymrot, a lawyer for Minpeco, said after the hearing that his law firm, Cole, Corette & Abrutyn, would try to persuade a Dallas bankruptcy court to allow collection of the verdict.
The law firm is also pursuing the other two defendants, he said. "We still expect to fully collect our judgment."
A genial, gray-haired and bespectacled man wearing gray trousers, a blue shirt and a dapper blue blazer, Lamar Hunt sat quietly in the front row of the courtroom as the judge approved the settlement. He refused to discuss the case or why he had settled without his brothers. After the hearing, an aide distributed a written statement in which Hunt said he had "made the business decision to put the litigation behind me so that I can spend my time pursuing positive business interests."
Hunt's best known business is the Kansas City Chiefs, a professional football team that he started in Dallas in 1960 and moved to Kansas City, Mo., three years later.