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Pension scammers ordered to repay £13.7m to victims

Justice-Fine-Ban-Court-Gavel-Judge-700x450.jpgThe High Court has ruled four people who ran a series of scam pension schemes must pay back £13.7m they took from victims.

David Austin, Susan Dalton, Alan Barratt and Julian Hanson tricked hundreds of people over a two-year period to part with their savings and then squandered the money.

The Pensions Regulator asked the High Court to order the defendants to repay the funds they stole – the first time such an order has been obtained.

Up to 245 members of the public were persuaded via cold-calling and similar techniques to transfer their pension savings into one of 11 scam schemes operated by Friendly Pensions.

Victims were told that if they transferred their pension pots to the schemes they would receive a tax-free payment commonly described as a “commission rebate” from investments made by the pension scheme – a form of pension scam.

Austin laundered funds from the schemes into his bank account and the accounts of family members in the UK, Switzerland and Andorra through a number of businesses that he had set up in the UK, Cyprus and the Caribbean, including Friendly Pensions.

TPR showed the High Court evidence of how members of Austin’s family had lived a life of luxury using the money – including showing off their spending on expensive goods, ski holidays and trips to Dubai and the Mediterranean on social media sites.

Dalriada, the independent trustee appointed by TPR to take over the running of the schemes, will now be able to seek the confiscation of the scammers’ assets for the benefit of their victims.

TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish says: “The defendants siphoned off millions of pounds from the schemes on what they falsely claimed were fees and commissions.

“While Austin was the mastermind, they all took part in stripping the schemes almost bare. This left hardly anything behind from the savings their victims had set aside over decades of work to pay for their retirements.

“The High Court’s ruling means that Dalriada can now go after the assets and investments of those involved to try to recover at least some of the money that these corrupt people took. This case sends a clear message that we will take tough action against pension scammers.”

In his judgment, Judge Mark Pelling ruled that Austin had been the “mastermind” behind the scam but that all four of the defendants had acted dishonestly.

He ruled that Austin and Barratt were jointly and severally liable to pay £7.7m plus interest; that Austin and Dalton were jointly and severally liable for £5.9m plus interest and that Austin and Hanson were jointly and severally liable to pay £122,900 plus interest.

The judge also ordered that they pay costs to TPR and Dalriada.

TPR used Section 16 of the Pensions Act 2004 which allows it to apply to the High Court for a restitution order, requiring those who have been involved in the misuse and misappropriation of pension scheme assets to compensate for the losses suffered.

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Comments

There are 10 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Jail ?

    I read no mention of jail terms ….

    I do hope they are all locked up, and the key thrown away.

  2. Please tell me they are also in jail? Hopefully for a very long time.

  3. If the money’s all been squandered, it can’t be paid back. What then?

  4. Bethell Codrington 24th January 2018 at 10:20 am

    Jail? Not a hope. This is Pension Scamming, so they will be barred from being a Director or Trustee and told not to be naughty again.
    It is a harsh punishment when you have £7m in your off-shore bank account……

  5. “They squandered the money”

    So please explain how , or from where they are going to raise the £13.7 million?

    Jail sure – but how does that help the rather gullible victims?

  6. We need to see some Regulated Advisers go to prison, before people start taking the Regulator as a real concern, so far all we see is those who the regulator has barred from being regulated, which is simply a slap on the back of the hand, mind you with lap tops and table tennis is prison a deterrent for some!

  7. Bethell Codrington 24th January 2018 at 11:13 am

    Back in 2015 tPR report (case ref: C38699667)stated that funds had ben misappropriated!
    Perhaps the definition of “misappropriate” might help them. Dishonestly or unfairly take (something, especially money, belonging to another) for one’s own use.
    The perpetrators have now had three years to “squander” the money before a Court Order seeking repayment.
    I thought that THEFT was a criminal offence….

  8. will the FSCS pick up the pieces and it is going to cost us again???

  9. 5 bob a week for 300 years

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