Former Money Portal director and GP Noble principal Tony Morris has been cleared of defrauding nine pension funds of £52m.
A spokeswoman for Southwark Crown Court confirms Morris, who was accused of conspiracy to defraud, theft and aiding and abetting fraud, has today been cleared of all charges.
Morris’ associate, Peter Malmstrom, has also been acquitted.
GP Noble was a subsidiary of Money Portal, which went into administration in June 2009. Morris was disqualified as a director in 2005.
The conclusion of the trial means reporting restrictions have been lifted over other trials conducted last year in relation to GP Noble.
The Serious Fraud Office says 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 registered in the UK and 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 says these funds were used by Pitcher and others for fraudulent purposes, including the payment of unwarranted fees and loans.
In April 2008, a similar maneuver was performed, removing funds to a 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.
MUFF Limited used these funds for high risk speculative investments including investment in property developments in Thailand and funding for a film finance company. The SFO says the bonds issued by MUFF Limited were virtually worthless to the pension schemes.
In July 2008, The Pensions Regulator removed GP Noble as trustee of all the schemes it administered. The case was referred to the SFO by the regulator on July 17, 2008. The SFO’s investigation was conducted in conjunction with Nottinghamshire Police.