The Insolvency Service has issued a warning to people to guard their pension savings from investment scammers and negligent trustees, having identified over £200m of losses after closing down 24 companies for pension misuse
The pension misuse varied from convincing people to access their pensions and invest in unregulated schemes to pension trustees not carrying out their duties properly.
The Insolvency Service estimates there have been some 3,750 victims connected to the 24 companies closed down since 2015, including both individuals and businesses, having made £202m worth of contributions.
Following the wind-ups, eight directors have received a total of 57 years’ worth of directorship disqualifications.
In one case, four directors of companies involved in the misuse of £57m worth of pension funds were banned for a total of 34 years. The Insolvency Service says there are further ongoing investigations into other operations.
It also cites the example of Fast Pensions Ltd and five other connected firms which were wound-up by the courts in May 2018.
Between 2012 and 2013, 520 people were encouraged to transfer their pension savings from existing providers into one of 15 schemes, with Fast Pensions acting as the sponsoring employer. A total of at least £21m was invested and people were persuaded to transfer their savings through various methods, including cold calls questioning the performance of their pension funds or offering free pension reviews.
Advice provided was inadequate and advisors also failed to disclose information around returns and the high risk and illiquid nature of the investments made by the schemes, as well as the benefits members would be entitled to.
Consumer Minister Kelly Tolhurst MP said: ‘If you are approached to make an investment from your pension, always do your homework and seek independent advice, if necessary, to help you make an informed decision.
‘Government continues to work closely with the Insolvency Service who are working to clamp down on rogue companies targeting vulnerable people.’
The Insolvency Service has a microsite dedicated to advice about how to avoid pension scams.
Protect your pension microsite is here.
Report by Pat Sweet