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Pension trustee admits stealing £280,000 from pension scheme

An accountant and pension trustee being prosecuted for fraud by The Pensions Regulator has admitted stealing over £280,000 from a pension scheme.

TPR says the accountant used the scheme like a “personal piggy bank.”

In TPR’s inaugural fraud prosecution it heard Roger William Bessent plead guilty to five counts of fraud and two counts of making employer-related investments at Preston Crown Court today.

The regulator will ask for three other counts of employer-related investments to be left to lie on file.

Bessent, from Preston, moved the money from the Focusplay Retirement Benefit Scheme into struggling and new businesses he part owned, run by himself, his family and a client.

TPR says the 66-year-old tried to cover his tracks by converting the transfers into loans and by falsifying meeting minutes and records which stated other trustees were present when they were not.

Roughly £80,000 of the total stolen has been repaid.

Over £120,000 of the stolen funds were used by Bessent and his wife for a buy-to-let property purchase which was rented to the couple’s daughter. Other stolen funds were used for the tax bills of his and his client’s businesses and subsidising the running costs of a children’s nursery. Some of the money was used as start-up investment capital in his son-in-law’s physiotherapy business.

TPR executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish says:

“Bessent used the pension scheme as his personal piggy bank, transferring out hundreds of thousands of pounds for his own personal benefit and to keep his other businesses going.

“As an accountant, Bessent was someone that people would turn to for advice and put their trust in. He abused that trust and used his position as trustee to defraud the scheme for his benefit and the benefit of his friends and family.

“Trustees play a vital role in protecting the benefits of members. We will not tolerate the abuse of such an important job.”

Sentencing will take place at Preston Crown Court on 29 March.

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Wonder how long he will get.

  2. What kind of controls did the Trustees have in place to prevent embezzlement such as this? If it was that easy for Bessent to misappropriate £280,000, the answer would appear to be: None whatsoever.

    And did they never have the scheme accounts audited by an outside body?

  3. The trustees probably had perfectly proportionate controls – but when it’s a trustee that’s gone bad it’s very difficult to catch. Clearly this was caught, so it’s quite possible that the controls worked to catch such a transfer, albeit perhaps not quite as quickly as one would like.

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