The Pensions Regulator has stepped in and replaced three trustees of a company suspected of a £14 million fraud.
The Regulator investigated the actions of Alan Barratt, Susan Dalton and Julie Hanson and believes that they misappropriated funds and exercised poor trustee governance in relation to 17 pension investment schemes.
It is believed that the three trustees were acting under the control of David Austin who was the sole shareholder of Friendly Trustees Limited.
The investigation has shown that around £13.7 million in pension monies has “disappeared”, mainly through fees and commissions payments. Around 240 victims have been identified.
Dalriada has been appointed to take over the governance of the funds as an independent trustee in an attempt to prevent further losses. Dalriada has managed to reclaim £400,000 so far but it is likely that many people will have lost their hard earned pensions.
Slater and Gordon’s Financial Litigation team questions why the ceding providers (the Pension providers from where the scheme’s money was transferred) did not undertake sufficient checks to stop this scam.
Trustees have onerous duties and it is not enough to simply transfer funds out of one scheme to another upon receipt of transfer request by investors. A greater level of enquiry should be undertaken with a minimum being a warning to the investors of potential scams.
Pension scams are usually sold to unsuspecting people as great investment schemes with impossibly high returns. You can be easily drawn in by smooth talking sales people promising that they will dramatically increase your investment. Unfortunately this often isn’t the case and many people have lost their retirement funds.
The Pensions Regulator has issued advice about pension investment scams and the things to look out for to protect yourself. Warning signs include mass-marketing techniques and cold calling; suspicious activity such as funds being transferred from pensions scheme to trustee personal accounts and third party companies; and incentives of lump sum payments on completion of transfer.
There are legitimate investment schemes out there but be careful before you enter into any of them. Do your research and make sure they are who they say they are. Don’t be tempted by promises of incredibly high returns.
If you have invested in Friendly Trustees Limited, or fear that you have been drawn into a pensions investment scam, please call the specialist litigation lawyers at Slater and Gordon.
Call on us freephone 0800 916 9015 or contact us online and we will call you.