Lawyers and trustees have tracked down 85 per cent of the missing £52m of pension money linked to GP Noble.
Independent Trustee Services, which was appointed by The Pensions Regulator to investigate GP Noble in July 2008, says the assets of the schemes have been traced through a number of jurisdictions including Switzerland, Australia, Thailand, Canada, Gibraltar, BVI and Nevis.
ITS managing director Chris Martin says: “We are delighted to have reached this figure which represents a significant step towards concluding the four year long process of restoring the assets of these schemes.
“Whilst the members have continued to receive their benefits from FAS or the PPF, it is clearly important to those bodies and to the wider pensions industry that ITS has made these recoveries.”
Law firm Taylor Wessing was appointed by ITS to help locate the missing assets.
Partner David de Ferrars says: “A global team has worked together on making recoveries for the pensions schemes over the past four years. Whilst international asset tracing poses many challenges owing to the numerous jurisdictions and hurdles, we have successfully managed to overcome these.”
In July, former Money Portal director and GP Noble principal Tony Morris was cleared of defrauding nine pension funds of £52m.
Morris, who was accused of conspiracy to defraud, theft and aiding and abetting fraud, was cleared of all charges at Southwark Crown Court. Morris’ associate, Peter Malmstrom, was also acquitted.
GP Noble was a subsidiary of Money Portal, which went into administration in June 2009. Morris was disqualified as a director in 2005.
Graham Pitcher, a former GP Noble trustee, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud for his involvement in the misuse of pension scheme funds managed by GP Noble Trustees Limited. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
Gary Cordell, the former operations manager of GP Noble who was tried alongside Pitcher, was acquitted of any criminal involvement.
GP Noble was an independent trustee company based in Nottingham which administered a large number of occupational pension schemes. At the time of the offences, its principal director was Pitcher.
In August 2007, Pitcher removed £30m of six of the schemes’ funds from UK-based investment houses and reinvested the funds in a British Virgin Island company, Fareston Limited.
This was done without consulting the other directors of GP Noble. The SFO said these funds were used by Pitcher and others for fraudulent purposes, including the payment of unwarranted fees and loans.
In April 2008, a similar manoeuver was performed, removing funds to the value of £22m from seven schemes in favour of three-year bonds issued by Multiple and Unilateral Financial Futures Limited, a company also registered in British Virgin Islands.