Four heads of companies that formed part of a group involved in the transfer of millions of pounds of pensions have been banned for a total of 34 years by the Insolvency Service.
The investigation, led by the Insolvency Service, centred on the conduct of the directors connected with Transeuro Worldwide Holdings, which helped fund two introducer firms Sycamore Crown and Jackson Francis.
The introducer firms cold-called members of the public, inviting them to transfer their pension pots into Sipps and pension schemes operated by Omni Trustees and Imperial Trustee Services.
These provided trustee and administrator services for two occupational pension schemes – Henley Retirement Benefit Scheme and Capita Oak Pension Scheme.
Investigators found the introducers from both Sycamore Crown and Jackson Francis misled clients and offered “guaranteed” returns designed to encourage them to transfer their existing pension funds.
As a result, more than £39m was paid into Sipps, more than £10m into Capita Oak Pension Scheme and more than £8m to Henley Retirement Benefit Scheme.
Members’ funds were then largely invested in unregulated investments in storage units which ultimately did not yield the level of returns promised to members.
Sycamore Crown director Stuart Greehan agreed to a nine-year voluntary ban as a result of false and misleading statements made to encourage investors to transfer their pension pots.
Both Imperial Trustee Services director Karl Dunlop and Omni Trustees director Ian Dunsford agreed to voluntary bans for failing to act in the best interests of pension members and subsequently failing to ensure investments were adequately diverse.
Dunlop, Greehan and Dunsford previously accepted disqualification undertakings for their management roles within the group of companies involved in the transfer of pension funds.
Despite not formally being appointed a director of Transeuro Worldwide Holdings, Stephen Talbot recently accepted a nine-year disqualification for failing to explain what happened to millions pounds worth of assets.
The Serious Fraud Office is currently investigating Capita Oak Pension Scheme and Henley Retirement Benefit Scheme over potential fraud.
The Insolvency Service’s official receiver for its public interest unit Ken Beasley says there has been an increase in cases where members have been promised higher returns and transferred their pension pots into new schemes.
He adds people should check who they are dealing with, avoid being pressured into making decisions and seek out impartial advice before going ahead with any pension transfer.