Pension scheme negligence lands insurance boss seven-year ban

An insurance boss who caused his company to be negligent in its responsibilities while administering a pension scheme has been banned for seven years, after concerns were raised about some £13m of members’ funds

Ivor Jenkins, from Cheshire, was the sole appointed director of Optimum Financial Solutions Ltd from May 2002. The company traded as an insurance agent, brokering various policies, and Jenkins was approved by the financial regulators.

By 2015, however, the company began to struggle. To bring in a new source of income, Jenkins agreed for Optimum Financial Solutions to administer a pension scheme called Optimum Retirement Benefits Plan (ORBP).

Providing this new service led to Optimum Financial Solutions moving from offices in Widnes to new premises in Skelmersdale, while also renting an office in Manchester, where the pension schemes were promoted. Jenkins was also given financial incentives, receiving a lump sum payment of £50,000 and monthly payments of £5,000.

The Insolvency Service carried out confidential investigations into Optimum Financial Solutions in 2016 following complaints, which resulted in the company being wound up in court in February 2018.

Further investigations by the Official Receiver established that Optimum Financial Solutions failed to keep adequate records, did not provide information to the tax authorities and was derelict in its duty to provide ORPB’s members with up to date information, such as personal statements.

When questioned, Jenkins claimed that he was not personally involved in the promotion of the pension scheme. However, The Pensions Regulator published a report in June 2018 that proved Optimum Financial Solutions did play a role.

Despite being regulated to deal with insurances and mortgages, Jenkins confirmed that neither he nor anyone else at Optimum Financial Solutions had permission to talk to potential clients about pension schemes.

The Pensions Regulator’s report also highlighted that ORPB was not being run in an appropriate manner and there were serious concerns over the status of members’ funds, believed to be in the region of more than £13m.

The independent trustee to the ORPB – appointed in February 2018 prior to Optimum Financial Solutions being wound up – has been unable to reconcile member accounts and identify assets, largely due to the inadequate record keeping of Optimum Financial Solutions.

Ken Beasley, official receiver, said: ‘Having worked in the highly regulated insurance industry, Ivor Jenkins should have known that there are stringent guidelines when it comes to administering a pension scheme.

‘He gained personally from allowing his company to administer the pension scheme, while members were left in the dark about their savings, and for that we welcome this disqualification which seriously curtails his ability to run a limited company.’

Pat Sweet | 17-07-2019

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