Pension directors banned from running companies for 21 years

The directors of two pension companies shut down in the public interest have received bans totalling 21 years for their role in the companies’ mismanagement of members’ funds

Gleeson Bessent Trustee Services (GBTS) and Gleeson Bessent Trustees (GBT), based in Preston, were wound up in the public interest by the courts in March 2017.

Investigations by the Insolvency Service into the conduct of the directors has led to the four directors giving disqualification undertakings totaling 21 years.

Roger Bessent and Tracy Park were directors of GTBS, while Roger Bessent, Matthew Bessent and Neil O’Donnell were all directors of GBT.

GBTS provided pension trustee and administration services to numerous occupational pension schemes and GBT was the trustee of three of those schemes.

In their undertakings, the four former directors accepted they failed to ensure GBTS and GBT properly performed their roles as a trustee of the pension schemes and as a result, member’s funds were exposed to greater levels of risk than that specified in standard guidance issued by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

The former directors accepted six instances of unfit behaviour, including failing to comply with pension legislation and TPR guidance on what is expected of trustees, as well as operating with a lack of transparency designed to persuade or encourage the public, who were not sophisticated investors, to transfer pension funds into pension schemes which relied on high risk investments.

GBTS and/or GBT were found to have made investments in companies where the accounts and instruments did not reflect the investment made. Either or both failed to carry out their functions as trustees/administrators by failing to ensure that sufficient share certificates to support investments were received and/or to satisfy themselves that there was sufficient evidence of the existence of the investment.

The court also heard GBTS and GBT offered contrived and artificial ‘employment’ to members in order to circumvent what was considered to be the guidance at the time requiring the need for members to be employed by the sponsoring employer of the occupational pension scheme.

Roger Bessent is disqualified for nine years, Park for five years and O’Donnell and Matthew Bessent for three-and-a-half years each.

Scott Crighton, group leader from the Insolvency Service, said: ‘Companies handling money on behalf of others have a duty to ensure that funds are properly managed.

‘Directors who fail in these duties will be investigated and removed from the corporate arena for a lengthy period.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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