Trustees banned for involvement in pension scams
Tuesday 10 March 2015
The Pensions Regulator has banned two individuals and a trustee company from acting as pension trustees, following a pension scams investigation.
The regulator’s determinations panel (‘the panel’) prohibited David Fellowes, Francine Becker and a company they controlled, Avalon Pension Trustees Limited, from acting as trustees of trust schemes in general. Mr Fellowes and Ms Becker had acted as trustees of nine pension schemes investigated by the regulator in relation to pension scams activity.
The panel also appointed independent trustee company Dalriada to take control of the schemes and ensure that they were being administered properly.
The reasons for the panel’s decision are set out in a determination notice published today.
Andrew Warwick-Thompson, executive director responsible for the regulator’s work to disrupt pension scams, said: “This case illustrated a number of hallmarks of pension scams including cold-calling, excessive fees, high-risk investments based overseas and incorrect statements to members as to the tax consequences of transferring to the scheme.
“If you’re cold-called or texted by people claiming to be able to help you to cash in your pension as a loan or lump-sum, it’s almost certain to be a scam. You could lose all your money and may also face significant tax charges.”
He added: “We’re working with the pensions industry, Government, other regulators and the police to disrupt pension scams. We’re taking action in the courts to shut down scam schemes, and in the regulator’s determinations panel to appoint independent trustees to make sure schemes are run legitimately.”
In addition to the determination notice relating to the nine schemes formerly run by Mr Fellowes and Ms Becker, the regulator has today published three notices covering a further 15 scam pension schemes. In all of the cases, the panel appointed an independent trustee to administer the schemes.
- The Pensions Regulator is working with a cross-Government task force to clamp down on pension scams including the Department for Work and Pensions, The Pensions Advisory Service, Money Advice Service, Financial Conduct Authority, Serious Fraud Office, HMRC, Action Fraud, National Crime Agency and City of London Police.
- The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).
Matt Adams 01273 662086
Katherine Long 01273 811859